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New York TeacherMarch 2, 2017

Volume LVIII, Number 7

Cover Stories

PS 217 The Roosevelt Island School, Manhattan

The power of love

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Love was in the air this Valentine’s Day — love for public schools, that is. In the face of the threat to public education posed by the Trump administration and its new education secretary Betsy DeVos, educators, students and parents across the city demonstrated why they love their public schools.

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At many schools, hundreds of hearts covered the walls, decorated with students’ and teachers’ heartfelt odes to their schools. At PS 163 on the Upper West Side, a student wrote, “I love PS 163 because of all the kind, wonderful teachers that push you to reach your highest potential.” A teacher at Long Island City HS wrote, “As someone who was taught in public schools, whose parents taught in public schools and who went on to work in public schools, there is…

Bill de Blasio arrives at the Delegate Assembly to receive the endorsement

UFT delegates vote to endorse de Blasio for re-election

UFT delegates voted overwhelmingly to endorse the mayor’s re-election bid set for this coming November. “We are blessed that we have a mayor who will stand with every single public school teacher to defend our profession and the right to be unionists,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

UFT: Extend the tax on millionaires

UFT President Michael Mulgrew urged state lawmakers on Feb. 14 in Albany to fully fund the foundation aid that New York City schools need — and to extend and enhance the millionaire’s tax to help pay for it.

Latest News

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing shot

DeVos squeaks in as education secretary

Betsy DeVos was narrowly approved as education secretary by the Senate following a bruising confirmation process and a deafening public outcry over her nomination.

Nominate Brown to TRS board

All UFT members are being urged by the union’s leadership to sign nominating petitions to re-elect Tom Brown to another three-year term as a trustee on the Teachers’ Retirement System board.

Upstate NY chemical plant workers end long strike

A strike at the Momentive chemical plant in upstate New York came to an end on Feb. 14 as workers voted to approve a new labor contract.

Opposition to Connecticut’s school aid redistribution plan

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy’s proposal to redistribute state school funding from wealthier areas to struggling cities has sparked opposition from well-off towns that are concerned about footing more of the bill.
Missouri map

Unions seek to overturn Missouri’s right-to-work law

A bid to put Missouri’s new anti-union right-to-work law to a vote of the people was temporarily scuttled on Feb. 21 when the Republican state attorney general rejected the petition because parts of the proposal were not properly punctuated and underlined.

Feature Stories

Students use a spectrophotometer to measure the intensity of light in part of th

She has authenticity down to a science

In the spring of 2016, Bianca Brandon made a trip to ShopRite and purchased eight chickens. When a curious cashier wondered aloud why she was buying so much raw poultry, Brandon remembers with a laugh, she replied, “I don’t think you want to know.”

The chickens were victims of Brandon’s forensic science class at Staten Island Technical HS, where for the next eight weeks students would study the effects of external factors — like weather and insect activity — on body decomposition. Some of the chickens were buried in soil; others sat outside on the concrete in the sun. Students were curious about whether clothing would affect decomposition, so one of the chickens wore a tiny T-shirt.

“It really was stinky,” Brandon says matter-of-factly. “But in science, sometimes it smells bad and looks gross, and that’s just how it goes!”

For her innovative and dynamic technique in the classroom, Brandon was…

Teacher Aurora Goldman (left) and paraprofessional Kimberly Nisbett lead their p

Give peace a chance

The students of PS 208 in East Flatbush marched around the city block, holding handmade signs bearing the words and symbols the children had chosen to communicate their hope for a loving world.

Vernon Turner, retired NFL football player
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Vernon Turner, retired NFL football player

Vernon Turner endured an early life so rooted in poverty and degradation that at age 50 he remains shocked to be alive. He was saved by two miracle workers, his 2nd-grade teacher and his high school coach.

Around the UFT

Engaging in a discussion are (from left) Johnny Veloz, the chapter leader at the

Bronx Community Learning Schools vision dinner

Sometimes it’s easier to solve problems when you collaborate. Four UFT community learning schools in the Bronx are doing just that.

Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference 2017

In a prescient pre-election decision, the annual Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference this year chose as its theme Media Literacy: Who Shapes the Narrative.

Una Cameron Lee, a teacher at PS 40 in Brooklyn (left) and Allen Kinard, a teach

UFT African Heritage Committee annual awards dinner

Nearly 300 members and friends of the UFT African-American Heritage Committee gathered on Feb. 3 to kick off Black History Month at the committee’s 14th annual dinner dance.

Bernadette Alexander, a teacher at PS 204 in Morris Heights, the Bronx, joins th

UFT’s Black History film series

The UFT celebrated Black History Month by screening a series of three films that explored some of the American heroes and historical events marking that history.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Manila folders: family, disability

Short-term disability plan

In-service UFT members have the protection of a short-term disability plan that can provide valuable income when personal illness renders them temporarily unable to work.

Your Well-being
Alcoholic (generic)

Treating alcohol and substance abuse

Many kinds of support are available for those with substance-use issues and for their loved ones, including detox, rehab and intensive outpatient services.

You Should Know

You Should Know

Deduction increases for transit plans

If you use TransitChek, the MTA will be raising various transit fares effective March 19, including the 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which will increase from $116.50 to $121.

Secure Your Future

Why we must reject a constitutional convention

Every 20 years, New York State holds a referendum that asks voters if they want to hold a convention to revise or amend the state’s constitution. When the question appears on the ballot on Nov. 7, we are asking you to vote “no,” and here’s why.


President's Perspective

Open the books on charter schools

When President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held a meeting at the White House with the “education community” on Feb. 14, it showed the deep disconnect between his administration and the reality of education in the United States.

Seniors David and Briana practice tournée. Besides helping the vegetables cook e

CTE power to the rescue

LIC HS's culinary arts program is an example of how Career and Technical Education programs keep students engaged and interested in school and prepare them for high-skill, high-wage careers and life after high school.


Taxing millionaires

New York State levied a millionaire’s tax in 2009, just as the financial crisis and the ensuing recession hit. It brought in $4 billion annually to the state’s coffers just as tax receipts were drying up.
DeBlasio election night party, Park Slope Armory, Brooklyn, Nov. 5, 2013

On the right track

With the new administration in Washington, D.C., it’s more important than ever that our public schools and the students we teach have strong supporters.

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Digital assessment tools

There are ways to measure learning that take advantage of technology — and make our lives as teachers easier.

Research shows
Teacher's Choice supplies

Teachers spend more than $500 on supplies

Teachers reported that they spent an average of $530 of their own money last year on basic supplies for their classrooms, according to a new national survey from education publishing company Scholastic.
Teacher to Teacher

Skill-building through the arts

I am a special education teacher who teaches performing arts in a theater program for children on the autism spectrum. I incorporate skill-building in my arts instruction — but these activities could just as easily be integrated into the rest of the classroom day.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

The Chill Zone

The Chill Zone was created to influence peer interaction among our students with disabilities, giving them a fun yet safe way to make friends and socialize.
New Teacher Diaries
Classroom circle

Don’t tell me my ELL students can’t achieve

Do not tell me my students cannot do math — and don’t let me tell myself that, either.

Retired Teachers News

How it looks now after the facelift, compliments of Diaz-Austin (standing, cente

A parting gift for her colleagues

Attendance is up, way up, in the bright, new teachers’ lounge at PS 205, a retirement gift from Lourdes Diaz-Austin to her former colleagues after 30 years as an ESL teacher at the school in the Belmont section of the Bronx. “It was a gift from my heart,” explained Diaz-Austin.

Attacks against us figure to grow

The Republican Party is more stridently opposed to unions and workers’ rights than when it last controlled both houses of Congress and a majority of state houses in 2006. It now controls Congress, the presidency and the majority of state houses, and is poised to dismantle the American labor movement. It began in Wisconsin when Gov. Scott Walker gutted the collective-bargaining rights of public-sector employees like us and now the threat looms in the federal government.