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New York TeacherFebruary 4, 2016

Volume LVII, Number 6

Cover Stories

Governor Cuomo

Cuomo pursues different education agenda

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State and budget address on Jan. 13, vowed to transform every failing school into a community school, bring universal prekindergarten “to 100 percent of our communities” and provide a $200 tax credit for teachers who spend their own money on school supplies.

“Teachers deserve our support and encouragement,” he said. He called for a $2.1 billion increase in state school aid over a two-year period, including nearly $1 billion for the coming school year.

It was a far cry from last year, when in a more combative tone he tied $1.1 billion in additional state education aid to individual merit pay, more charter schools, punishing struggling schools, and making teacher evaluation hinge on state test scores.

Although Cuomo still voiced support for charter schools, it did not dominate his discussion of education solutions. Many of his proposals, such as community schools and universal pre-K, have been championed by …

Success Academy under fire

Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter school chain is under fire from all sides for its harsh discipline policies and treatment of students with special needs.
The network, the city’s largest operator of charter schools, now faces an investigation by the institute that licenses charter schools in the state as well as a federal lawsuit filed by parents and a formal complaint lodged by parents with the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.


Unionists rally as Supreme Court hears arguments in Friedrichs case

High court hears oral arguments in anti-union Friedrichs case

As hundreds of union leaders and members gathered outside the courthouse with protest signs, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Jan. 11 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Union, a case that threatens to undermine the ability of the UFT and other public unions to advocate effectively on behalf of its members.

Latest News

Anti-creaming law pushed by UFT

The UFT is calling on the state Legislature to enact “anti-creaming” laws requiring taxpayer-funded charter schools and networks to accept and keep high-needs students in numbers comparable to those in public schools.
Empty library shelves in an Arizona public school. The picture is captured from

School budgets still lagging in most states

Bulging class sizes, stagnant salaries, fewer teachers and limited supplies of everything from books to copy paper: That is what the reduction in per-pupil state funding looks like in thousands of classrooms around the country since the Great Recession — despite a much vaunted economic recovery.

“We need a budget proposal from the governor and legislature that finally pays t

New push for more state aid for schools

Throwing down the gauntlet before the governor’s budget address, parents and other education advocates on Jan. 10 called on the state to pay the billions of dollars it owes New York City public schools.

Repairing the Common Core

Nearly 5,000 teachers responded to the State Education Department’s invitation this past fall to weigh in on the Common Core Learning Standards. The standards, first rolled out in 2012, have provoked fierce controversy and the governor’s Common Core Task Force has now called for a thorough rewrite.

Resignations on the rise for teachers

Teacher departures are once again on the rise after a brief slowdown following the 2008 recession, according to a new UFT analysis of city Department of Education payroll data.

Feature Stories

Students display their designated country on placards.

The world is their classroom

When Allyson Compton’s students enter her classroom at the HS for Environmental Studies in midtown Manhattan, they’re no longer high school seniors. Instead, as they take their places behind placards bearing the name of the country they represent, they become United Nations delegates. And what’s at stake in the day’s session isn’t just their grades but the political futures of the countries they represent.

Model United Nations is traditionally an after-school club activity. But — with help from teachers at Thomas Edison HS in Queens, where a similar course exists — Compton has combined themes of government, economics and UN procedures to craft a model UN class. The class encourages students to strengthen their skills in research, writing and public speaking.

“The idea is to teach students to be independent thinkers an…

Rosello, here leading band practice, uses music and theater to help keep students focused.

Getting in on the act

When the English language learners in Carlos Rosello’s 9th-grade class at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice study literature, it’s total immersion. They perform scenes from the novel or play they’re reading in class.

Students work alongside teacher Christopher Gianesses to study the pattern in th

Shaping education

A new math workshop helps upper elementary school students explore the relationship between familiar shapes and the unique architecture of the Morgan Library and Museum.

More in Feature Stories

Around the UFT

Welfare Fund seminar on breast cancer

Early detection of breast cancer through annual mammograms beginning at age 40 and self-examination is still the best defense against the disease.

Passages Academy on Staten Island holiday extravaganza

Their dance performance at Passages Academy's holiday extravaganza was the latest reason that guidance counselor Adrienne Pritchett-Dames was proud of her nine girls, who come from juvenile detention centers. "They are much, much more than their mistakes," she said.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future
UFT pension consultant Victoria Lee (left) of the Queens borough UFT office rece

TDA — A bridge to financial security

With tax documents arriving in the mail and while finances are on the brain, it’s a good time to review a valuable resource you should take advantage of: the Tax-Deferred Annuity program.

Opinions

President's Perspective
Michael Mulgrew listing image Headshot

There’s more to get done in Albany

January marks the beginning of the legislative session in Albany and I am happy to report, as we head into the session, that we have seen a lot of positive change on education policy in the last year.

VPerspective
UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds was energized by some

The union-school connection

These are critical times for all public-sector unions in light of the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps nowhere is occupational mission and the importance of union membership more intertwined than among public school educators.

Opinion

Back on track

The attacks on New York City public schools and teachers would lead one to believe that all schools are failing. Charter school advocates would have you think the sky is falling.
Opinion

Courting trouble

The 2016 presidential campaign already feels like it has gone on forever. But now is not the time to tune out or bail out. Among other things, the party that controls the White House in 2017 will almost certainly play a role in determining the balance of power on the U.S. Supreme Court for years to come.

Teaching Resources

Teacher to Teacher

Let students inspire projects

The value of letting our students' ideas propel classroom work came home to me most dramatically when my students last year found old artifacts hiding in a gap in our classroom closet.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

A better comprehension of science concepts

Basic and science inquiry process skills are an integral part of my daily teaching and learning.
New Teacher Diaries

In the big picture, learning comes in many shades

He always came late. He sat in the back of the classroom. Alone, alert, quiet and reflective, he pulled out his pens and books. But his pens did not write our class notes. His books were not our books. Instead, he began to draw.

Retired Teachers News

Retiree optional rider checks to be mailed in February

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who chairs the union’s Welfare Fund Board of Trustees, is pleased to announce that retirees will be receiving their Optional Rider Reimbursement at the end of February.

 This year’s reimbursement continues at the rate of up to $780 for retirees whose optional rider or health plan deduction was in effect for all of 2015. Retirees whose rider or health plan was in effect for less than 12 months will receive reimbursement at the rate of $65 per month. If the monthly deduction was not greater than $65, the Fund will cover the full monthly amount.

 Checks are mailed to most retirees automatically. Any eligible member who retired in 2015 and has not received a reimbursement check by April 1 should download a 2015 Rider Claim Form from our website at www.uftwf.org. Retirees should submit this fo…

Reporting TRS distributions on your federal income tax

If you received one or more of the distributions listed below during 2015, you are required to report the total gross amount of the distribution in box 16a and the taxable amount of the distribution in box 16b on your 2015 federal income tax form 1040.

Renew your commitment to labor

Those of us who have been both in-service and retiree activists have spent our professional union careers engaged with our colleagues and in solidarity with the labor movement as a whole. Let’s help renew that commitment with action.