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New York TeacherApril 2, 2015

Volume LVI, Number 8

Cover Stories

State to increase school aid by 6%

The state Legislature signed off on a final state budget on March 31 that will deliver an extra $465 million to New York City schools next year, a 6 percent increase that is the largest in eight years.

A two-month-long surge of protests on the ground and on social media by parents and educators forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to drop or modify many of the education proposals that he had originally sought to attach to the budget. And in the end, the budget included a $1.6 billion statewide increase in school aid, far above what he originally proposed.

Receivership’s unimpressive history

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s angry ultimatum on education, he inserted $8 million into his executive budget to fix the state’s lowest-performing schools using “receivership,” a strategy with two decades worth of weak results.

Teaching the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

Maribeth Whitehouse, who teaches at IS 190 in the Bronx, draws connections for her students between the Triangle fire and the Happly Land Social Club fire 79 years later. It is just one of the many ways that public school teachers have found to teach the Triangle fire to their students.

Latest News

UFT members stride through the halls as they begin their day of lobbying elected

Lawmakers hear what #AllKidsNeed

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressuring state lawmakers to pass his misguided education proposals as part of the state budget, 1,100 UFT members on March 12 converged on the state capital to shift the focus to the real priority: getting the state to pay the $2.5 billion it owes to New York City schools.

IS 14, Brooklyn

Circles of protection

Protests against Cuomo’s harmful public education agenda peaked in New York City on March 12, when parents, their children and educators joined hands to form a human chain around their buildings as if to protect them from the governor’s proposals.

Pearson caught spying on students

Multinational testing giant Pearson has been caught spying on students’ social media accounts in a supposed effort to detect any “security breaches” that might compromise the integrity of its tests.

Arkansas school privatization bill abandoned

Arkansas Republicans on March 17 abandoned their push for a bill that would have allowed the privatization of school districts deemed academically distressed.

NYU grad students win big in new contract

New York University’s administration and graduate student union have, after more than a year of stalled negotiations, reached a tentative contract that would raise pay and expand health care and other benefits.

Feature Stories

Having fun and gaining confidence are two of the key goals of the weekly swimmin

Everybody into the pool!

Upon arrival at Samara Community School in the West Farms section of the Bronx on Friday mornings, the kindergartners cheekily demand proof that their teachers and principal are wearing swimsuits. “We lift our shirts and show them,” says teacher Janira Gonzalez, the school’s chapter leader. “Then they show us that they are wearing theirs. It makes them laugh.”

To the grown-ups, swim day is serious stuff. Having students learn to swim is a foundation of this Spanish/English dual language school that opened in September and will add a grade each year through 5th grade. Each student will begin lessons in kindergarten and continue to swim every year until graduation.

“Most of our kids have no access to pools so they don’t learn to swim,” says Principal Danielle Derrig. “Often, their parents don’t swim either. So this is an amazing…

In her role as a master teacher at Middle College HS in Long Island City, Romia Reid brainstorms with her colleagues to help consider effective strategies.

Queens teachers ‘master’ new support system

Romia Reid, a chemistry teacher at Middle College HS in Long Island City, is a master teacher, one of the new teacher leadership positions created in the 2014 contract, but she says all her teaching ideas come from the other teachers in the school.

Chapter Leader Lucille Randazzo helps lead a professional  development session

‘Anchoring’ professional learning

When time for PD was extended to the rest of the staff as a result of the contract, the staff at PS/IS 121 seized the opportunity to extend their professional learning community dedicated to studying anchor texts.

Member Spotlight

What I Do
Reid Olmstead

What I Do: Reid Olmstead, school psychologist

For three years, school psychologist Reid Olmstead has counseled special-needs students at P 186, a District 75 school for special-needs students in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.

Around the UFT

UFT Asian-American Heritage Committee Lunar New Year Banquet

[[nid:89157; line-height: 20.7999992370605px; float: right; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; styleName:nyt_medium]]For one evening each year, it is possible to believe that stuffing money into a lion’s maw and eating long life noodles in a restaurant named Grand Harmony will guarantee health and happiness. Perfectly understandable, then, that more than 300 people braved winter’s bite on Feb. 27 to converge on the Chinatown institution for the annual Lunar New Year celebration, which included a 10-course dinner. For a quarter century, Marian Thom, the co-chair of the UFT’s Asian-American Heritage Committee, has…

Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

FT members and retirees took advantage of the opportunity to learn from the top doctors in the fields of breast, prostate and lung cancer treatment by attending seminars offered at union headquarters in March. More than 100 attended a breast cancer seminar on March 24 with Dr. Clifford Hudis, the chief and attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which co-sponsored the seminar with the cancer support group SHARE.

Read Across America event at PS 158, Brooklyn

The pre-K through 2nd-grade students at PS 158 in East New York, Brooklyn, had never been to a birthday party quite like the one they attended at their school on March 2 — a celebration of Dr.Seuss’ birthday as part of the annual nationwide Read Across America event.

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
New York City

The places you go

One of the most important decisions you will make as you prepare for retirement is where to live. Considering that New York City has been called a retirement village, you will probably not be surprised that the vast majority of Teachers’ Retirement System members remain in the metropolitan area after they retire.


President's Perspective

Speaking out made a difference

Every phone call, every Facebook post, every sign you made — it all helped move the needle and educate the public on the truth behind the governor’s proposals.

UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford and students from PS 156

Opening the doors to literacy

This year, with thousands of new preschool slots for children, it’s more important than ever that we make sure our youngest learners develop the love of reading that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. 
That’s why we jumped at the chance to work with the AFT on a pilot program called Transitioning to Kindergarten.


The measure of a teacher

A student from Ecuador says her first complete sentence in English. A boy chooses to tell his teacher about his feelings rather than throw a tantrum. A class learns the difference between opinion and fact.

Giving due process its due

A bully principal with a grudge against the UFT gives the school’s chapter leader a rating of Ineffective, reflecting the principal’s animus toward the union, not the teacher’s job performance.

Teaching Resources

Research shows

U.S. workers highly educated despite hurdles

The United States has the world’s most highly educated workforce, but its students face high levels of poverty, inequality and violence, according to a new report

Teacher to Teacher

An appraisal of Core Knowledge Language Arts

Core Knowledge Language Arts, a Common Core-aligned ELA curriculum for elementary schools, has considerable strengths, though like all curricula, it’s not perfect out of the box.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Students learning about activism

We are doing a study of New York City through the lens of social justice. It’s proven to be really powerful.
New Teacher Diaries

How a short story inspired my teaching

Teaching Ethan Canin's "The Palace Thief" has renewed my faith in English literature being an avenue to develop emotional maturity in my students.

Retired Teachers News

RTC Chapter Leader Column

Working to protect benefits, rights

Click on the UFT website to see the photos of parents and teachers, arms interlocked, circling hundreds of city schools to “protect” them from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s devastating education agenda.