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New York TeacherNovember 14, 2013

Volume LV, Number 4

Cover Stories

DeBlasio election night party, Park Slope Armory, Brooklyn, Nov. 5, 2013

De Blasio’s agenda for schools and city fuels optimism

Camille Ratteray-Vann has high hopes for mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who won a decisive victory on Nov. 5. She’s an English and dance teacher at IS 126 in Long Island City and the chapter leader for Alternative Learning Centers in Queens for suspended students. De Blasio’s criticism of high-stakes testing resonated with her.

“I’m a proponent of portfolio assessment,” she said. “We’re not one thing. Testing is necessary, but now we teach to the test.”

Ratteray-Vann is just one of many UFT members who hopes de Blasio, the first Democrat to win the office in 20 years, lives up to his campaign promises on education and sets a different tone at City Hall, especially…

DOE's curricula not ready for prime time

Common Core curricula that schools across the city have adopted this year at the behest of the Department of Education are not ready for prime time, according to exasperated teachers who have been trying to implement the new programs.
Recovery of the Few: A Tale of Two Cities

Recovery of the few: a tale of two cities

The popular myth is that New York City has fully come back from the 2007–08 recession. But the reality is that only the very rich have come roaring back. The rest of us, the 99 percent who are the middle or lower income, actually lost ground. Here is how the “recovery” shaped up between 2008 and 2012.

Latest News

Far Rockaway school overcame and is still overcoming

Walk through the hallways at PS/MS 105 in Far Rockaway and you would never suspect that anything terrible had happened here. Yet just one year ago, this large K-8 school was among the hardest-hit by Hurricane Sandy and is still, in fact, in the process of rebuilding from the storm.

Breezy Point member: 'I couldn’t walk away — it’s my home’

Kerri Walsh had always loved living near the water. Her house in Breezy Point had once been her grandparents’ summer vacation cottage, and Walsh, the literacy coach at Channel View School for Research in Rockaway Park, had lived on the same block for nearly 20 years.So when Hurricane Sandy ripped through the Rockaways, Walsh was devastated.

Flatbush MS twice fends off charter seeking to co-locate

They say lightning never strikes twice, but it has at Andries Hudde MS in Flatbush which for the second time in less than six months has fended off a proposal to co-locate a charter school inside its building.

UFT colleagues went beyond expectations

Imagine returning to the house you’ve lived in for 15 years and finding it utterly destroyed. What would you do? If you were Fiorella Raimondi, a 2nd-grade teacher and the chapter leader at PS 20 on Staten Island, you’d dig in, rebuild and start over. And you’d do it with an amazing sense of gratitude toward your colleagues and neighbors.

Driving professional conversations in our schools

The new teacher evaluation and development system can help to empower us as professional educators to get the support that our classrooms and schools need.

Feature Stories

Kids are mesmerized by the magic show.

Fright and delight

It isn’t every day that ghouls, witches and the Bride of Frankenstein come together at the UFT, but they did on Sunday, Oct. 27, when UFT members and staff in the Bronx transformed their borough office for the ninth straight year into a Halloween horror show for the enjoyment of kids and parents alike.

More than 1,300 merrymakers — the most ever — braved the scary space, alternating between fright and delight as they took advantage of all the Halloween Family Fright Fest had to offer. The haunted house, which boasted cobwebs, bats and big red devils, was plenty scary, but there were lots of young Power Rangers on hand to tackle the monsters within. Superman and Spider-Man — in miniature version, of course — were on hand, too, as were pint-size clones of singers Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars.

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The staff at PS 721 in the Bronx had participated in the UFT’s breast cancer awareness campaign before, but it took on new meaning when one of their own was diagnosed with the disease.

Staff steps up for Bronx teacher

Shari Rothfeld, a District 75 high school at In-Tech Academy in the Bronx, was only 31 years when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in October, 2012. When Rothfeld’s colleagues found out that she would need to miss many days of work for treatment, they stepped up to donate their sick days.

Paraprofessional Joyce Moran assists a student.

A taste of the future in Queens: District 75 culinary arts program

It could be a scene from any one of countless neighborhood delis or lunch counters across the city, but the employees here are 12 students in the culinary arts program located at PS 177 in Fresh Meadows, Queens, a K-12 school in District 75 for special-needs students.

Member Spotlight

What I Do
Danielle O’Connell

What I do: Danielle O’Connell, Hearing Education Services teacher

Danielle O’Connell has been a Hearing Education Services teacher for eight years, the last seven in a self-contained classroom of 12 children in grades 3-5 at P4 at PS 109 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Around the UFT

The president visits DeWitt Clinton HS, the Bronx

"They were trying to close you, but you’ve weathered the storm and DeWitt Clinton will not close,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew defiantly told the staff of the Bronx high school during an Oct. 30 visit.

Foreign Language Teachers professional conference

The New York City Association of Foreign Language Teachers/UFT held its 16th annual professional conference on Oct. 26, with more than 300 teachers of Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Greek, German, Latin and other languages in attendance.

UFT and Shanker Institute hold national CTE conference

The UFT and the Albert Shanker Institute hosted career and technical education experts from around the country at a two-day conference at UFT headquarters on Oct. 10-11.

Beautification project at PS 197 in Far Rockaway

Flowers bloomed and spirits brightened on Oct. 26 at PS 197 in Far Rockaway, where students, families and staff teamed up with Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to breathe much-needed life back into the school grounds after Hurricane Sandy tore through the neighborhood last year.

NYCATA/UFT Artworks ‘13 conference

More than 200 UFT art teachers took part in for-credit professional development at the New York City Art Teachers Association/UFT Artworks ’13 education conference.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Maximizing your prescription drug benefits

Read on for some advice on how best to maximize your prescription drug benefit, whether you’re at a doctor’s visit or the pharmacy, or determining how best to order your maintenance medications.

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. 

Secure Your Future
Retired couple with grandkids

Many in nation face insecure future ...

The country's senior population has for decades had one of the lowest poverty rates. But poverty among seniors is now rising slightly due to the combination of longer life expectancy and the decline of traditional pensions.


President's Perspective

The end of an error

Bloomberg-style “drill-and-kill” standardized test prep has sadly become the norm for our students, and attaching high stakes to the tests has all but forced real teaching and learning out of our classrooms.


A new model for confronting challenging student behavior

With the encouragement and full support of President Mulgrew, I approached the Department of Education and Cornell University with a proposal to create a consortium to provide schools with a systemic and research-based approach to understanding, assessing and supporting positive student behavior.


Charter execs: Pay up!

You would think that if Success Academy Charter Schools can pay Eva Moskowitz a salary of $475,244, they could also afford to pay rent for their space in public school buildings.

A new day

Pat yourselves on the back, UFT members. There is reason for pride and celebration. On Nov. 5, the people were heard. We have a new mayor, comptroller, public advocate and many new City Council members who support our schools and respect UFT members.

Teaching Resources

Research shows

Poor children fall behind in language early

The gap in language skills between children from low-income families and those from affluent homes becomes evident when children are as young as 18 months old, new research shows.

Teacher to Teacher

Interactive writing in the high school classroom

After discussions with many students and teachers, I have come to believe that what often ends up being left out of writing instruction and yet is at the heart of teaching students how to write is guided practice – specifically guided practice in the form of interactive writing.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Who's reading what?

This "Who's Reading What" display chart is used for students to showcase what they are reading.
New Teacher Profiles

A leader at his school and in Sandy relief efforts

Michael Cestaro's advocacy as a chapter leader at Rockway Park HS for Environmental Sustainability took on greater meaning after Hurricane Sandy devastated his school building and the homes of his students and colleagues.

Retired Teachers News

RTC Chapter Leader Column

Hanging tough against ‘the bad guys’

The so-called “Grand Bargain” is back in play. And in Republican hands that always means going after the Affordable Health Care Act, “Obamacare,” and/or entitlements. As the AFL-CIO warns, “for America’s working families, the Grand Bargain is a Grand Bamboozle.”