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New York TeacherJanuary 8, 2015

Volume LVI, Number 5

Cover Stories


Keeping calm

[[nid:86190; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; float: left; styleName:large]]School lunchrooms are often loud and boisterous places, but at PS 45 on Staten Island something else was going on: 3rd-grade boys were often fighting with each other. The fighting stopped after the staff collected and examined data that showed the hot spots for conflict in the lunchroom — and where the school aides were stationed.

It was an eye-opener.

“All of the incidents occurred in one area of the lunchroom, and the adults were congregating in another area,” says Chapter Leader Julie Pleszewicz. Now the aides are assigned to zones throughout the lunchroom, and playtime is structured in the playground, with aides strategically placed to prevent disruptions or prevent minor skirmishes from escalating.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

UFT blasts Cuomo’s ‘deform’ proposals

The UFT on Dec. 18 blasted a letter from the Cuomo administration to state Education Commissioner John King that intimated that the governor was going to use the power he has in the budgetary process to try to ram through changes to education policy that charter school advocates and corporate education reform groups have been pushing for years.

UFT tax proposal would lower class size

UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Dec. 9 called for closing tax loopholes that benefit non-resident owners of luxury properties to raise revenue to bring class sizes in kindergarten through Grade 3 down to no more than 15 children.

Latest News

Librarians Susan Westover (left) and Amanda Clarke deliver the big, red bins to

Special delivery

The MyLibraryNYC program, a partnership of the city's three public library systems, delivers class sets of the same book and collections of age-appropriate books on a single topic — all for free — to 550 participating schools in all five boroughs.

UFT child care providers ratify 'historic' $43M contract

New York City’s child care providers have overwhelmingly ratified a $43 million agreement with the state Office of Children and Family Services that will feature valuable health benefits as well as grant money to enhance their skills and better equip their programs. “It’s an historic contract that will greatly improve the lives of our members and of the children we serve,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

LA district to require ethnic studies to graduate

Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will soon be required to take ethnic studies in order to graduate from high school.

Teach for America recruitment drops sharply

Teach for America may miss its recruitment goal for new “corps members” for the next school year by more than 25 percent, according to officials with the organization.

U. of Oregon grad students declare strike victory

Striking graduate students at the University of Oregon triumphantly ended their walkout on Dec. 10 after eight days on the picket line.

Feature Stories

Jani Decena-White
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Jani Decena-White, English professor

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To her students at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, English professor Jani Decena-White is a cheerleader and a hand-holder. But she is no pushover. Recently, a student who didn’t like her grade threw a tremendous hissy fit in class. “Honey, if you think you’re scaring me,” White said calmly, “you couldn’t be more wrong!”

Everything White needed to become an effective and inspiring educator, she learned in the 4th grade from Miss Harris. “Some teachers are intimidated by or are dismissive of students who are rude or difficult or just not like them,” says…

“Writing across the curriculum is our school’s instructional focus.

Writing: A work of PROSE

Writing weakness is common in middle school, but what the School of Integrated Learning is doing about it is not. With the support of PROSE, math and ELA teachers combine forces, share classrooms and co-develop curriculum to help their students become better writers.


Holiday event at PS 188, Brooklyn

School custodian Bill Post was determined that his union, Local 891, would grant the students at PS 188 in Coney Island the kind of holiday that all kids deserve. Each year, the union chooses a needy school and throws a party for its students. This year, the gifts came to PS 188, one of the UFT's Community Learning Schools.

Around the UFT

Santa shares a moment with children who are sporting some fabulous face paint.

Comfort and joy!

Christmas came early this year for 127 homeless children as they arrived for a holiday party thrown by the UFT and the Coalition for the Homeless at union headquarters on Saturday, Dec. 13. 

Valerie Crawford, a music teacher at East Flatbush Community and New Heights mid

Uplifting Teaching and Learning for ELLs Through the Arts conference

The Teacher Center partnered with the Center for Arts Education and the National Jazz Museum to help teachers learn creative ways to inspire and educate students who are English language learners. “Sunday morning is a tough time, but I saw teachers engaged, excited and participating fully in the workshops,” said Ann Archer, a Spanish teacher in the Bronx.

Family child care providers earn national accreditation

Eighty-eight very proud child care providers completed training for their national accreditation from the National Association for Family Child Care in a festive graduation ceremony held at the UFT’s lower Manhattan headquarters on Dec. 6.

Big Apple Classic STEM-Ed Leadership Summit

Ninth- and 10th-graders from career and technical education public schools across the city searched for answers to their futures during the two-day Big Apple Classic STEM-Ed Leadership Summit co-sponsored by the UFT on Dec. 6–7.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future

TDA contribution limits to increase in 2015

The Internal Revenue Service has announced new contribution limits for retirement plans, including 403(b) plans such as the Teachers’ Retirement System’s Tax-Deferred Annuity program.

Secure Your Future

Choosing how you want your retirement pay

Members planning on retirement will need to decide whether to receive their maximum monthly retirement allowance or get a reduced allowance with a benefit for dependents or beneficiaries.


President's Perspective

Cut class size by closing tax loopholes

I hope that each and every one of you had a happy and restful holiday break, and I wish you all the best for the new year that is now beginning.


My first book

The Astor Foundation grant to develop and support early childhood literacy will be the perfect partner to our already thriving efforts to nurture childhood literacy via our partnership with the AFT and FirstBook.


A proven strategy

A proven strategy: Teachers and parents know it, and research has proved it: Significantly smaller class sizes, particularly in the early grades, can lead to strong gains in achievement. The benefit is greatest for poor and minority children. 


Cuomo’s mistake

Cuomo’s mistake: Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to base his recent actions and statements about education on mistaken assumptions. He seems to think that New York parents support privatizing public education. 

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Technology for parent outreach

Now that the UFT-DOE contract sets aside dedicated time for parent outreach each week, it’s an opportune moment to explore online resources that can increase communication with parents.

Research shows

Drive, prudence factors in achievement

Drive and prudence matter as much as brain power when it comes to graduating from high school with good grades and graduating college, according to a new study from the Center on Children & Families at Brookings Institution.

Teacher to Teacher

Tapping into students’ interests to spark learning

The overarching question for all pedagogues remains the same: How do you get students to be engaged in learning while keeping their own interests in mind — and without losing your own mind? 

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Keep growing in love with science

A designated area in my classroom focuses on what students need to learn throughout the year.
New Teacher Articles

Taking care of your certification

With the school year half over, now is a good time to take stock of the progress you’re making toward your professional state certification.

Retired Teachers News

A walloping!

Pro-labor progressives took a walloping on Election Day and we should face it squarely. A loss is a loss and a big loss is a big loss. Losing control of the U.S. Senate is a serious defeat. All that Tea Party legislation proposed by the House of Representatives will now get a sympathetic hearing in the upper house.

The president’s veto power must now protect us from the dark instincts of those who would dismantle the centurylong progressive social contract for which labor has fought.

It is almost as if there are two American electorates: those who vote in presidential elections and those who vote in midterm and local elections. But there is also evidence that the midterm electorate, the lowest turnout since 1942, included some…