[[nid:112192; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]Two years ago at PS 81 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, students spoke up with a concern: They didn’t have enough of a voice in the school.
It was an eye-opening moment for PS 81’s educators. Their first response was to strengthen the school’s student government. They decided that every class, from 5th grade down through kindergarten, would hold elections and send representatives to weekly student government meetings.
To give the school a sense of community — and to make sure even its youngest learners had a say — student government representatives started by nominating a school mascot, which was then selected in a schoolwide vote.
It may not have been as high-stakes as the 2016 presidential election. But the vote at PS 81 ushered in a new era of student engagement and a growing appreciation at the …
Although they officially became Albert Shanker College Scholarships in 1998, UFT college scholarships have been helping New York City public high school students from low-income families since their inception in 1969. Many of these scholarship winners have gone on to distinguish themselves in amazing careers. Here are the stories of six of them.
The UFT has mounted a campaign in Albany this spring to pass legislation that would help rein in spiraling health care costs by barring hospitals from charging outrageous fees for emergency care to out-of-network patients.
Hundreds of McDonald’s workers walked off the job in 13 cities on May 23 to call for a minimum wage of $15 per hour and expanded rights in their workplace, including protection from sexual harassment. The labor action came the same week as employees in 20 cities filed sexual harassment complaints against the fast food company.
As the July 1 deadline to pass the city budget approached, the UFT made a full-court press for city funding for Teacher’s Choice and four other UFT-led education programs: the United Community Schools initiative, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program and the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline.
[[nid:112226; styleName:article_x_large_auto]][[nid:112227; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]Gail Sims Bliss remembers the science fairs of her youth, when she did experiments that had no connection to what she was learning in school. So when the science teacher was asked to coordinate a fair at PS 84 in Brooklyn, she conceived a different kind of event and turned the tables on learning.
At the school’s fifth annual Science Exploratorium on May 15, more than 400 parents and guests experienced 47 hands-on experiments led by 320 Junior Scientists, aka students, in grades 2–8, who became teachers for a day at the school in Williamsburg.
“There is discussion — an interchange — between the student and the person they are teaching. It is not a presentation,” said Sims Bliss, who teaches 3rd- to 5th-graders. “They master content and then draw on what they’ve learned to both teach and ans…
“We want to make ourselves known,” said Nancy Acevedo, an occupational therapist at PS 264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Acevedo was one of hundreds of occupational therapists, physical therapists and educators who donned “Union Proud” chapter T-shirts on May 13 for the UFT Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter’s day of solidarity.
The chapter leadership was spurred to organize the day after the city was cited for not providing mandated services to students with disabilities.
“Our members provide a large chunk of those necessary services,” said Thomas Ayrovainen, an occupational therapist at IS 74 in Oakland Gardens, Queens, and the chapter leader of the Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter. “The aim of the day was to galvanize the chapter, show pride in our work and call on the DOE to provide all mandated services to students.”
Desiree Mark has worked for nearly 30 years at the Lawrence Avenue school of ADAPT Community Network, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of NYC, working with children whose medical, cognitive, emotional and/or physical needs require a more restrictive setting than a public school. Since 2003, the UFT has represented ADAPT employees, who now number more than 900 at schools and residences citywide.
Susan E. Wagner HS Chapter Leader Lillian Palladino credits the union-negotiated process for tackling excessive paperwork for resolving an issue at her Staten Island school and for “unifying staff, revitalizing morale and bridging the gap with administration.”
“You have different skills, certification and education, but you all have the ability to stand up in the middle of chaos — no matter how crazy it gets — and say, ‘This person matters,’” Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT and the UFT vice president for non-DOE members, told the nurses attending the union’s sixth annual Nurse Recognition Day on April 30.
Betty Silverman’s husband, daughter and granddaughter — who are all former or current New York City public school teachers — celebrated the 20th anniversary of the scholarship named for her at the District 24 Scholarship Dinner Dance on May 21.
The UFT presented $5,000 Albert Shanker Scholarships to 180 seniors from public high schools throughout the city and also honored eight graduate students on May 14 at a reception and ceremony in Shanker Hall at union headquarters in Manhattan. The ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of the annual $1 million scholarship awards celebration.
“Compassion, empathy, dedication, courage and creativity are part of our DNA,” declared UFT President Michael Mulgrew to the nearly 1,800 UFT members packed into the ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown on May 18 for the union’s annual Spring Education Conference. These qualities, he said, helped the UFT thrive in a year of threats.
As summer approaches, some of you will be heading out of town or even out of the country. Remember to take care of your maintenance prescription needs before you pack your bags. For emergencies, always carry your Express Scripts prescription ID card.
Under the DOE-UFT contract, every school must have a safety committee and a safety plan created by that safety committee. As part of the 2018 contract, UFT-represented members have a new mechanism to report safety violations and resolve safety issues.
One of my responsibilities as the UFT vice president for education is to make sure you stay informed about the rollout of New York State’s Next Generation Learning Standards. In 2018, we focused on raising awareness; this year we are focused on building capacity.
It’s June, and our enemies are coming out of the woodwork with a barrage of misinformation about unions and union membership. There is a lot at stake: Our profession, our public schools and our ability to take care of ourselves and our families.
More than 30 of the 51 New York City Council seats — a common entry point into elected office — will open up in 2021 because of term limits. It’s an opportunity to elect more public school educators and other UFT-represented professionals to elected office.
At the beginning of each school year, I ask my students to write about and bring in a photo of a loved one to put on display so they can walk up to that photo in times of struggle and success to remind them who they work hard for.
This month’s column is by Leo Casey, the executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute and a former UFT vice president, from remarks he made at a recent Democratic National Committee Labor Council meeting.
— Tom Murphy, RTC chapter leader
When teachers went on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina in the Teacher Spring of 2018, it was not just for themselves — although their pay, pensions and health insurance have been diminishing for the last decade. It was just as much for the students and the communities they serve, so that they might have the schools they deserve.
The strikes were driven first and foremost by government underfunding of public education, which is most intense in “red” states with Republi…