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New York TeacherMay 4, 2017

Volume LVIII, Number 9

Cover Stories

Newsman Geraldo Rivera (standing, center) and former Willowbrook State School re

How far we've come

Those with disabilities today have “a world of opportunity ahead of them,” said Dr. Mary McInerney, the principal of the Richard H. Hungerford School on Staten Island, speaking of people like Marianna Pastena, a graduate of the District 75 school and now a paraprofessional there.

But it was not always so.

Willowbrook State School on Staten Island gained infamy in the 1960s and early 1970s when it was exposed as an inhumane, severely overcrowded, filthy warehouse for people with challenges. Pastena acknowledges that she feels “blessed when I think of what the people who lived at the Willowbrook State School had to endure.” [[nid:101047; float: left; styleName:article_x_half]][[nid:101045; …

State adds $1.1 billion for public schools

Public education in New York will get an additional $1.1 billion in the new state budget, while two UFT-supported provisions from the previous budget remain intact, making it possible for public schools to retain much-needed funds.
Social worker Angove helps a 7th-grade student look for a potential high school.

Good ‘Shepherds’

Single Shepherd program making a big difference for middle-school students at PS/MS 31 in the Bronx.

Latest News

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.


Wisconsin prohibits project labor agreements

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill blocking local governments in the state from making project labor agreements, which require contractors working on public projects to use union labor.

New Mexico

New Mexico bans shaming students for lunch debt

A new law in New Mexico prohibits schools from publicly identifying or stigmatizing students whose parents don’t pay their cafeteria bills.


Arizona expands voucher program to all students

Arizona has enacted a law allowing all public school students in the state to receive public funding to attend private and parochial schools.

New Mexico

New Mexico governor vetoes higher education funds

New Mexico’s governor, Susana Martinez, has vetoed all funding for public higher education in the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

Feature Stories

Green School HS Chapter Leader James Van Nort works with English students on an

Sharing responsibility

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The Green School HS in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, received a $100,000 grant for technology and had to decide how to use the money.

In the space of two weeks, the school’s teacher-led technology committee polled staff, analyzed the data and came up with a plan. Now there’s a Promethean board, a laptop cart with 25 laptops and a printer in each classroom, plus a computer for each teacher.

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“Teachers know what they need,” said Chapter Leader James Van Nort. “Using shared leadership and a good decision-making protocol, we came to a shared decision on a major technology grant.”

Green School HS is one of the 140 schools citywide in the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program that gives schools the flexibility to rethink old rules and try out new idea…

Jennifer Nyro (left) Keriann Martin, an Integrated Co-Teaching team.

In sync

A Bronx pair perfects the art of co-teaching. What makes their partnership successful?

Yemaya Bordain
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Yemaya Bordain, electrical engineer

“The teachers, to a one, told me and showed me I was special and handed me off with love to the next teacher,” says Yemaya Bordain, who in 2015 was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne.

Around the UFT

Teacher Marci Pepper from PS 94 at PS 188 in District 75 serves gefilte fish to

Labor Seder

“May the light of these candles not only bring light to our own places of darkness, but also shed light on the darkness of economic injustice.”

Teachers Darleen Seedan, Camacho James and Jacqueline McDonald in the new center

Teacher Center reopens at Transit Tech Career and Technical Education HS, Brooklyn

Transit Tech Career and Technical Education HS in East New York, Brooklyn, celebrated the official reopening of its Teacher Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kim Hinds-Price, a Transit Tech teacher and the Teacher Center coordinator, said the center's activities will include one-on-one coaching, opportunities to earn CTLE credits and a work station where CTE and academic teachers can collaborate. 

Dr. Douglas Lazzaro

Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

More than 30 UFT members attended the March 28 UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series seminar entitled “The Aging Eye” at UFT headquarters to hear doctors from the NYU Ophthalmology Center in Manhattan discuss vision ailments and their treatments.

Volunteers and students show off the computers they designed.

Hackathon at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School

“From four-year-olds to grandmothers, they learned in the morning, got into teams, decided what service could be provided or problem solved, made an app, honed their presentations and presented on stage to judges,” says Community School Director Kate Thomas of the hackathon at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School in Brownsville.

Retiree Stephanie Kollar, a former art teacher, (third from left) explains how e

UFT Math Teachers Committee workshop on tessellations in quilts

A creative math workshop reached back to the antebellum South to make its point about how math is related to our daily lives.

More in Around the UFT

You Should Know

Secure Your Future
Penson Fund

Choosing the right pension benefit for you

TRS allows members to choose how much of their benefit to receive: Members may take the maximum retirement allowance for which they’re eligible. Or, they may take a smaller amount and, if they die first, survivors receive a benefit. 


President's Perspective

When Randi met Betsy

The visit by Betsy DeVos and Randi Weingarten to public schools in rural Ohio showcased what public education is — and what we are fighting to protect.


What is an American?

What is the definition of “American”? According to Merriam-Webster, an American is “a native or inhabitant of any of the United States.” Unfortunately, too many residents of this country do not define “American” this way.


Shepherding success

The Single Shepherd program, which launched in September, was designed to boost high school graduation and college enrollment rates in two of the most challenging school districts in New York City [see “Good ‘Shepherds’” on page 6]. Mayor Bill de Blasio is to be commended for backing a program that helps the students who too often fall between the cracks.


A budget that works — for most of us

It took a little longer, but our hard work yielded results: The new state budget increases education aid by $1.1 billion, which includes $700 million in additional foundation aid for school districts. Prekindergarten, community schools and after-school programs all get a boost in support.
Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Making podcasts with students

Compared to a video project, producing podcasts requires less technical expertise and allows students to practice similar higher-order skills, such as research, design and revision.

Research shows
SESIS system improves after UFT push - Pixabay (students - child-study-boy-proof-learning-1529218)

Academic skills rising for youngest students

New nationwide studies published in Educational Researcher found that children entering kindergarten and first grade have significantly better academic skills than similar students had 15 to 20 years ago.

Teacher to Teacher
City students make real progress

Documentation helps kids ‘think like scientists’

in my inquiry-based pre-K classroom, I have been experimenting with methods of documentation. By documenting their observations, children can begin to “think like scientists.”

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Bulletin board designer

I let my students design the bulletin board for our published opinion pieces.
New Teacher Profiles
Michael Oeckel helps students at the HS of World Cultures, composed of immigrant

Teaching immigrant students adds up for this math teacher

Michael Oeckel, a first-year high school math teacher, employs exaggerated hand motions and expressions and gets students out of their seats to illustrate math concepts to his students who don't speak English.

Retired Teachers News

Choices in the road ahead

A blueprint to move forward

John F. Kennedy was born 100 years ago on May 29, 1917. As the president, he inspired many of us who came of age in the 1960s through his idealistic call to action in his inaugural address: “Now the trumpet summons us again …” That call put us on the path to accomplishing many things that would help better society.

By comparison, the current scene in Washington is a national nightmare hell bent on dismantling the social safety net that organized labor worked to put in place over the more than 100 years that included JFK’s short life.

But those of us who have inherited the progressive achievements won during that century are determined to preserve, protect and advance those…