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New York TeacherMay 5, 2016

Volume LVII, Number 9

Cover Stories

A New York lawsuit similar to the Vergara case in California was filed by Mona D

Teacher tenure victory in California

In a victory for unions nationwide, the California Court of Appeal on April 14 reversed a lower court decision that had thrown out tenure and seniority rights for the state’s public school teachers. The appeals court ruled that the state’s teacher tenure and seniority laws do not violate black and Latino students’ rights to an equal education under the state’s constitution.

“The plaintiffs’ attack on teacher due-process protections was and is a partisan political crusade masquerading as a court case,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. The appeal court’s decision is “a clear demonstration of the weakness of the Vergara case.” 

A similar lawsuit was filed in New York in 2014 after plaintiffs in the California case won at the lower court level. The New York lawsuit, known as Davids/Wright, is now before the New York State Appellate Division. It charges that teacher tenure deprives New York children of a sound, basic education, as…

The boatbuilders consult the design plans with ESL teacher Peter Heinz as Chapte

Smooth sailing

A clutch of students from PS 143 in Corona were hunting for microscopic creatures that inhabit the Hudson River, the river into which they will soon be launching their handmade, 10-foot rowboat.

3.5% salary increase comes on May 1

The salaries of UFT members employed by the Department of Education increased 3.5 percent on May 1 as part of the 2014 contract.

Latest News

Electronic prescriptions now mandatory in NYS

Electronic prescribing (“e-prescribing”) will improve medication safety, reduce errors (the pharmacy won’t have to interpret your doctor’s handwriting) and may help to reduce medical costs due to adverse drug interactions caused by the pharmacist giving the wrong drug. But the new process also will create challenges at first.

Retire from work, but not from the UFT

If you are retiring, you must maintain your UFT membership as a retiree in order to continue participating in NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs and services.

Lobbying done by UFT members in Albany on March 9 helped boost state education f

City schools get big state aid boost

This year’s push by parents and educators for additional state funding for public schools paid off when the governor and Albany lawmakers on April 1 finalized a new state budget that contained a $1.4 billion increase in state education funding, with $525 million going to New York City public schools.

Friedrichs ruling a win for unions

Public-sector unions nationwide survived a serious threat when the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked on March 29 over a challenge by conservatives to the fair-share fees that public-sector unions collect from workers who don’t become members.

Comprehensive health benefits … a reason to be union Loud and Proud

UFT members have health benefits that they can count on if serious illness strikes them or a close family member. Most Americans, without a union, are not so lucky.

Feature Stories

A student boxes with PS 65 physical education teacher and boxing coach Femi Guri

Have some ‘punch’

Femi Guri knows what it’s like to see things no child should see: He and his family fled Kosovo and came to the United States in 1999 by way of a refugee camp in Macedonia. “I learned how brutal this world could be — fires, bombing, people losing loved ones,” he says. “I sort of skipped part of childhood. I was getting in trouble at school, but boxing was a savior for me.”

Now 27 and a physical education teacher at PS 65 in the South Bronx, Guri believes boxing could be a savior for his students, too. PS 65 is located in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country; of the 460 students in the pre-K–5 school, 42 percent live in shelters or doubled up with other family members or friends. Guri opened the after-school Boxing Academy in 2014, equipped with donations from people he had met a…

Chefs, parents and teachers are at the ready for the afternoon Family Cooking Cl

Recipe for success

Working together, 3rd- through 5th-grade chefs at the afternoon family cooking class at PS 37 in Springfield Gardens turned out delicious fish tacos, fluffy brown rice and a crunchy red cabbage salad that tasted as good as it looked.

The partnerships PS 1 has forged with local community organizations have given s

The power of connections

Since becoming a UFT Community Learning School in 2014, PS 1 in Chinatown has been able to deepen its connections with community organizations and launch new ones, all in the name of supporting students and families inside and outside the classroom.

Member Spotlight

What I Do
Althea Hunter

What I Do: Althea Hunter, school secretary

Althea Hunter is the school secretary for the principal, payroll and procurement at Fordham Academy for Leadership and Technology. After 29 years working in schools, she still loves her job.

Around the UFT

Eileen Bover (right) responds as she and the other playwrights, Barbara Haspel (

UFT Players' one-act plays

A milestone and a loss. That could easily be the title of one of their original theater pieces: For the UFT Players, a group of retired educators who write and perform on stage annually, 2016 has brought both celebration and sorrow.

Honoree Hartz shows the enthusiasm she brings into her school.

District 24 Scholarship Dinner Dance

Continuing a 20-year tradition, educators, administrators and students gathered at Russo’s on the Bay on April 12 for the annual District 24 Scholarship Dinner Dance. 

Irish American Committee celebration

Marie Reilly, a musician and protocol officer at the Irish Consulate in New York City, performed traditional Irish tunes on the fiddle at the UFT’s annual Irish American Committee celebration on April 5.

A large contingent from PS 188 came out to support its chapter leaders.

District 26 Scholarship Dinner Dance

District 26 pulled off what District Representative Mary Vaccaro called “an evening of surprises” at its annual District 26 Scholarship Dinner Dance on March 31.

Social workers’ full-day workshop

Nearly 400 social workers gathered at UFT headquarters in Manhattan on April 8 for a full-day workshop, “Collaboration and Inspiration: School Social Workers as Leaders, Advocates and Brokers for Change,” organized by the UFT and the Department of Education’s Office of Guidance and School Counseling.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
UFT member with cast on arm injured in the line of duty

Injury in the Line of Duty

Pedagogues — teachers, guidance counselors, school secretaries, psychologists, social workers and lab specialists — injured or made sick on the job are covered by the Injury-in-the-Line-of-Duty provision of the UFT-Department of Education contract.

Your Well-being

Help for caregivers

It is easy for caregivers to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Here are some tips to help you prevent or manage caregiver stress.

You Should Know

You Should Know

NYC tests water in schools for lead

New York City began retesting water in all schools built before 1986 in the wake of the discovery of high levels of lead in the water in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, schools.

You Should Know

How teacher ratings will be calculated this school year

Grades 3-8 English language arts and math state assessments will not be used as part of teachers’ evaluations this year and the next three school years. There is no change for high school teachers.

Secure Your Future
Pension choices

Understand your pension choices

When you retire, you have another important decision to make: “Should I take the Maximum Retirement Allowance or select an option that provides for beneficiaries but reduces my monthly pension check?”


President's Perspective
UFT President Michael Mulgrew

We need real measures of learning

What’s a better way to judge how much someone has learned — hours of marking bubbles on a standardized test, or a semester-long project like building a robot, mastering a piece of music or a deep dive into a moment in history?

Evelyn DeJesus makes a point during a March

Removing barriers between policy & practice

When the complex, new state regulations governing English language learner instruction caused such turmoil in New York City public schools this fall, I set about immediately to create a working group of classroom teachers to examine the issues and offer solutions.


Labor’s Fight for 15

The Fight for 15 movement scored milestone victories this March as both California and New York State passed legislation to phase in a $15-per-hour wage floor over the next six years.

Gun fight

The idea of students bringing guns to school sets off alarm bells. But how about allowing educators to bring them?
Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Creating a student tech team

When you start working with technology in the classroom, it can be a huge undertaking. Successful integration means more than purchasing some fancy gear; the hard work really begins after the equipment is installed.

Research shows

Paras boost student achievement

Paraprofessionals who serve as teaching assistants significantly contribute to student achievement and improved student behavior, particularly in high-needs schools, according to a new study. 

Teacher to Teacher

Verdict on mock trials: effective

Have you considered asking your high school students to re-enact famous trials of historical figures like Galileo or Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher or a literary character like Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

An expansive classroom library

We created an expansive classroom library for our 2nd-graders that is rich in quantity and quality.
New Teacher Articles

Take care of your certification

With summer just around the corner, now is a good time to take stock of the progress you’re making toward your professional state certification.

Retired Teachers News

Retired Teachers Chapter members work the phone banks for Hillary Clinto

Retirees are campaign staples

One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Guess which major political party has advocated the following policies? The comments next to each make no claim to political objectivity. One potato: Abolish the Affordable Care Act, free pharmaceutical companies to compete in price gouging and voucherize Medicare. And if you believe the value of the proposed vouchers would in any way be enough to cover your medical costs, Mae West will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

Two potato: Privatize Social Security. Don’t worry about the likes of a 2008 recession; this proposal would boost the investment options of experienced individual stock market and bond gamblers and, of course, give a boost to hedge fund and corporate types who have…