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New York TeacherFebruary 5, 2015

Volume LVI, Number 6

Cover Stories

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address.

Cuomo pushes corporate ed plan that blames teachers

In his Jan. 21 State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo embraced the corporate reform agenda for education with a vengeance. He called for raising the cap on charter schools, extending teachers’ probationary period from three to five years, putting struggling schools into “receivership” and basing half a teacher’s evaluation on student test scores.

The governor used his address, which was combined this year with his executive budget, to blame high school teachers for failing to graduate students ready for college and to blame elementary and middle school teachers for failing to get students to pass new and harder ELA and math tests.

Success Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz and anti-tenure crusader Campbell Brown cheered the governor’s proposals, but many public school teachers were incensed.

“The governor’s speech served warmed-up Bloomberg leftovers,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “He ignores the real problems and…

Delegates urged to expand social media campaign

Delegates urged to expand social media campaign

UFT President Michael Mulgrew asked delegates at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 14 to encourage their colleagues to use social media to show how Governor Cuomo’s proposals on education would be destructive to public schools, educators and students.

Teaching reading is still rocket science

What does good reading instruction look like? 
It would be so nice if it were easy to say.

Latest News

Moral Mondays come to New York State

The Moral Mondays movement came to New York State on Jan. 12 as about 1,000 students, parents, advocates and union leaders from New York City and across the state converged on the state Capitol to demand fair and equitable funding for public schools.

Fariña puts superintendents back in charge

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced on Jan. 22 the end of the 55 school networks created by the Bloomberg administration and the introduction of a new structure that gives greater oversight and responsibility to superintendents.

Global inequality is increasing

Just 1 percent of the world’s population holds nearly half of all wealth, and their share is growing.

Unions aim to stop ‘fast track’ on trade

Labor unions joined with progressive lawmakers, consumer advocates, environmentalists, and social justice and human rights lobbyists to launch a campaign against trade legislation that would allow the president and Congress to speed approval of free trade agreements.

Majority of students now get subsidized lunches

More than half of all U.S. public school students now receive free or reduced-price lunch, a new analysis of 2013 federal data reveals.

Feature Stories

Two seniors in Uy’s geometry class work to construct Apollonian gaskets, fractal patterns generated from triples of circles.

Making math relevant

As a math teacher at International Community HS in the South Bronx, Aristides Julmarx Galdones Uy hears a frequent question from skeptical students: “When am I going to use this in the real world?”

Uy is determined to show them. A few years ago, to teach the concept of measuring angles — a fundamental lesson in geometry — he dispensed with traditional worksheets. Combing trade books and magazines rather than textbooks for lesson plans, he hit upon the idea of asking his students to design their own pipe systems using actual welding equipment. Using real plumbing and engineering workbooks to guide them, Uy’s students found themselves cutting and soldering pipes with blowtorches.

“Even a small miscalculation or a wrong measurement would lead to leaks,” recalls Uy, known universally to his colleagues and students as “Mr. Ari.” “It definitely got them excited.”

It is that ingenuity that…

Teacher Jaimie Ellerbrock and some of her students make the math-music connection as they play on the Harmony of the Spheres, where each globe lights up in a different color and has a different tone or triad chord.

Where math goes to get cool

Forget what you think you know about math: At the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan, it’s not something you work on with pencil and paper.

Kindergarten teacher Caitlyn Duffy reads a book with her students that they co-wrote as a group.

Read all about it!

Through a combination of research-based programs and targeted intervention strategies, PS 112, a K–2 school in East Harlem, has developed a well-rounded reading curriculum.

More in Feature Stories

Member Spotlight

What I Do
Vasilios Tselios

What I Do: Vasilios Tselios, senior occupational therapist

For five years, Vasilios Tselios taught students with autism to self-regulate at PS 177/The Robin Sue Ward School in Queens.

Around the UFT

Around the UFT

Retiree tutors volunteer at Community Learning Schools

UFT retirees are volunteering in a new tutoring program designed to strengthen the basic literacy and math skills of struggling students in two of the UFT’s Community Learning Schools.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
Patient in hospital

Absences for pedagogues

Teachers and other pedagogues are credited with one day of “sick leave” on the 16th of each month of the school year, or 10 days for a full school year of work.


President's Perspective

Cuomo's out of touch

Governor, hundreds of teachers across the city and state have invited you to visit their classrooms to see how education works on the ground and what our kids need in order to succeed. You haven’t responded. Apparently you’re afraid of teachers.

Why we organize

Constantly organizing new members is critical to the health of every union, and the UFT is no exception. Unions must either grow or decline; a union that is not expanding is in trouble.


Common sense restored

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s long-awaited announcement of the closing of the school networks created by Joel Klein is a milestone worthy of celebration. It is a decisive break with an organizational approach that, however well-meaning, was designed to fail.

Gov. Cuomo, charter cheerleader

Gov. Cuomo is so enthusiastic about charter schools that he wants to greatly expand their number even though he acknowledges that they are not accepting the same number of high-needs students as public schools.

Editorial Cartoons

Hey, Bloomberg

Hey, Bloomberg, can you email me your education policies? They told me I gotta give a State of the State.

Teaching Resources

Research shows

Academic ability of new teachers rises in NY

The academic capability of new teachers in New York City has risen over the past 15 years, new research shows.

Teacher to Teacher

Teaching multiple-choice test strategies

By guiding my students, I helped them overcome their insecurities with answering multiple-choice questions. Even my lowest-achieving students gained confidence as they actually asked for more multiple-choice questions to practice these strategies on.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Visual praise with incentives

I created this visual praise with incentives graph for my pre-K class.
New Teacher Profiles

Speech teacher a ‘lifelong learner’

Abigail Wray, a speech teacher at PS 230 in Kensington, Brooklyn, relishes the unique challenge of working with 30 students across grades 2–5.

Retired Teachers News

New year consequences

February is one of those months. The afterglow of the holidays is gone. Those of us shivering in the north and even the unhuddled southern snowbirds have time to reflect on the wintry depths of experience or memory.

My thoughts are political and from a labor perspective. The horrendous news, nationally and internationally, of the past year brings to mind Yeats’ poetic caution: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” — in this case, an intensity with ripple effects.

Everybody sooner or later sits down to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “banquet of consequences” and we must face those consequences. How do we square the labor movement’s innate, long-range optimism with the consequences of the antiprogressive triumph of the last election? Well, we face it boldly and move on to the coming fight. Every new…