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New York TeacherFebruary 2, 2017

Volume LVIII, Number 6

Cover Stories

Secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos is grilled during her confirmation he

DeVos flunks first test

In a contentious confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. education secretary, made clear that she would use her position to promote private and charter schools at the expense of public schools. During the three hours of questioning, DeVos appeared not to know some basic facts about public education or the agency she hoped to lead.

The committee hearing took place on Jan. 17 at the behest of Republicans even though the U.S. Office of Government Ethics had not completed its investigation into the complicated tangle of investments of the nominee, a billionaire who has used her wealth to wield great influence over education policy in her home state of Michigan.

Asked by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, if she “would commit to us tonight that you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single…

UFT President Michael Mulgrew explains the union’s #PublicSchoolProud campaign d

UFT launches #PublicSchoolProud campaign

UFT delegates on Jan. 18 voted to launch a Public School Proud campaign to champion the city’s public schools in preparation for the attack expected to be unleashed by Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Education Department.

Holding signs in the New York City crowd are Jessica Horn (left) of PS 157 in th

Rally and resist!

Thousands of UFT members participated in the Women's Marches in NYC and Washington, D.C., the birth of a large protest movement.

Latest News

Mission accomplished!

The city Department of Education in January fulfilled its agreement to clear 765 public school buildings of light fixtures containing the probable carcinogen polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that had threatened the well-being of students and teachers.

Millicent Burke Kaalund, Bronx,shows off supplies she purchased with grant money

Grant helps providers buy teaching aids

The UFT has won a $2.7 million state Quality Grant to fund educational supplies for family child care providers.

Billionaire family created Wild West of the charter movement

Now 85 percent of the state’s charters are run by for-profit companies, and there is still no constraint on who gets to sell education in Detroit. It’s a Wild West of unfettered choices that don’t educate kids.

New Dorp HS on Staten Island could lose nearly $1.5 million if it loses its Titl

Vouchers could gut $500M from NYC schools

More than 1,200 New York City schools would lose vital federal funding should President-elect Donald Trump follow through on his campaign promise to launch a national private-school voucher plan, UFT President Michael Mulgrew warned.
Money (generic)

21 states and D.C. to raise minimum wages in 2017

A minimum wage increase took effect at the start of the year in 19 states, bolstering the incomes of millions of workers from coast to coast.

Feature Stories

Sonia Dunkley (seated), with her son, Evly Davis, and daughter, Unique Nwahiri,

Family para-dise

Celebrating public schools

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Sonia Dunkley has been a paraprofessional at PS 9 in the Fordham section of the Bronx for 24 years. She loves her job so much that over the years she has told each of her four adult children some version of this: “Try what I’m doing and see if you like it.”

[[nid:99527; float: right; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]It’s advice they have taken to heart. That’s why today Dunkley is the matriarch of a family of paraprofessionals — a son and daughter also work as paras at PS 9, and two other daughters are paras at other Bronx schools. (Her youngest son is in high school in Rockland Coun…

Sackler Lab educator Kinley Russell shares our evolutionary fossil tree with stu

Holding history in their hands

Students attending a workshop at the Sackler Lab at the American Museum of Natural History get to handle cast skulls, measure them and learn techniques to recognize and classify different ape and hominid species that are part of the evolutionary tree of humankind.

Members of the chorus at PS 149 in Brooklyn ring in the Year of the Rooster with

Something to crow about

Costumed students from PS 149 ring in the Year of the Rooster with Chinese dignitaries at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

More in Feature Stories

Member Spotlight

What I Do
Catherine Cirillo, Supervisor of physical therapists

What I do: Catherine Cirillo, supervisor of physical therapists

A senior supervisor to 60 school-based physical therapists in the Bronx, Catherine Cirillo inspires in her team something bosses rarely receive: respect and loyalty.

Around the UFT

Japanese contingent visits Curtis HS, Staten Island

The UFT’s Community Learning School Initiative, now in 28 schools citywide, is attracting interest internationally. Curtis HS, a community learning school on Staten Island, played host on Jan. 5 to a delegation of 10 educators and seven students from Tokyo and other parts of Japan.
Kimberly Chevere puts the finishing touches on her creation.

Parent workshop at PS 154, the Bronx

A ceramics workshop for parents is one way that PS 154 is trying to strengthen the connection of parents to this South Bronx school.

Audrey Almestica of PS 38 in East Harlem is ready to advertise her superpower.

School Secretaries Seminar

At annual seminar, school secretaries get tips on staying stress-free while dealing with difficult personalities.

Brown helps a youngster from PS 5 make a snowflake during a mentoring program at

Research and Service HS students mentor students from PS 5, Brooklyn

Several times a year the teachers at Research and Service HS invite 1st- and 2nd-graders from nearby PS 5 to the school, where the teenage students design and teach lessons and do hands-on projects with the adoring younger students.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future

It’s simple to update beneficiaries

Would you believe it? More than 26,000 Teachers’ Retirement System members — approximately 22 percent of our members — have not filed a form designating one or more beneficiaries for their Qualified Pension Plan accounts.


President's Perspective

We want to hear your story

With public schools under unprecedented attack, it has never been more important for educators and parents to tell their stories.


Union must step up to protect workers

The new year brings new concerns as right-to-work laws and other anti-worker measures spread across the nation and the threats to our members’ rights multiply.

Hurting undocumented children

President Trump’s Jan. 26 executive order puts the approximately 535,000 undocumented immigrants in New York City at risk of deportation, and their children who attend public schools now face being separated from their families.
Secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos is grilled during her confirmation he

Hurting special-needs students

The six million students with disabilities in public schools around the country will suffer the most if Betsy DeVos expands for-profit charters and private-school vouchers nationwide.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve

Quiet wisdom

Even as student collaboration and group work are embraced in the modern classroom, some teachers are exploring the idea of redefining introversion as a source of strength.

Research shows
Classroom circle

Midyear student arrivals hurt classmates

Much research has described how academic achievement can suffer when a student changes schools mid-year, but new research in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis finds that the arrival of new students in the middle of the school year also hampers the academic performance of their classmates.
Teacher to Teacher
Classroom circle

Creating a student-centered classroom

I have pushed my kids to work at stations so that they spend more time doing hands-on/minds-on work and less time listening to my voice.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

A great use of space

We created this word wall on our cabinets with felt.
New Teacher Articles

Some advice for handling challenging situations

As a new teacher, you are bound to encounter situations with students that are challenging to navigate. If you find yourself in one of the following situations, here is some guidance for making a plan of action.

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 2016. 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 2016 and has not received a reimbursement check by April 1 should download a 2016 Rider Claim Form from our website at Retirees should submit this form a…

Elderly people (generic)

Caring for an aging relative

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 34.2 million people in the United States provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or over in 2015. You may find yourself in this situation: a caregiver for someone who is frail — your partner, parent, another relative or a close friend.