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New York TeacherJune 6, 2019

Volume LX, Number 10

Cover Stories

Students at PS 81in Brooklyn marched through the neighborhood with signs demanding clean drinking water.
Learning Curve

Civics education

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[[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…

Wayne Lydon, Fare Payment Programs director at the MTA

50 years of launching successful careers

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.

Middle age woman with caption

UFT fighting to rein in hospital fees

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.

Latest News

Oregon educators stand united at their statewide day of action on May 8.

Oregon walkout results in school funding boost

A week after tens of thousands of Oregon educators walked out of their classrooms on May 8 for a statewide “day of action,” the state's governor signed a $2 billion funding package into law to pay for smaller class sizes and more educational programs.

A group of UFT members from Districts 18, 21 and 22, including Brooklyn HS rep James Duncan

UFT's candidate wins Council seat

With the UFT’s support, Farah Louis won the special election on May 14 to fill the New York City Council seat left vacated by Jumaane Williams when he became the city’s public advocate. 


California teachers pay for subs during extended leave

Public school teachers in California are forced by state law to pay for their own substitute teachers when they take extended sick leave. 

McDonald’s workers strike for wages and rights

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.

Melinda Katz

Katz endorsed in primary on June 25

The UFT Delegate Assembly on May 22 overwhelmingly voted to endorse Queens Borough President Melinda Katz in the special Democratic primary for Queens district attorney scheduled for June 25.

Feature Stories

A 3rd-grader repeats a word and writes it on his slate.

Red-letter day at Spanish Spelling Bee

[[nid:112223; styleName:article_x_large_auto]][[nid:112222; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]Ten proud “ganadores,” or winners, took their bows at the fourth annual District 3 Spanish Spelling Bee hosted by PS 87 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. All seven dual language schools in the district participated, sending 34 finalists from their own spelling bees to the May 21 competition.

And the challenges were fierce. Consider the longest word, “ininterrumpidamente,” meaning without interruption. That was spelled correctly, while “respeto” tripped up several students because they added a “c” from the English word “respect.”

District 3 followed the rules of the national bee with a “pronouncer,” Ileana Infante from Hunter College, and a panel of judges that included a state Regent, three administrators and a student from nearby MS 247, another…

As they get ready to step out, staff, students and parents prove everyone loves

Same journey, different map

United by a bright blue ribbon that extended the length of their lineup, students from PS 372 @ M 113 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, circled their school block during their second annual Autism Awareness Parade on April 30.

Junior Elizabeth Kenney (center) listens to AP English language teacher Vincent

Balancing act

Students at Manhattan's Professional Performing Arts School have succeeded in striking a balance between the challenge of high academic standards and success in the performing arts.

Member Spotlight

Desiree Mark
What I Do

What I do: Desiree Mark, teacher’s aide, ADAPT

Desiree Mark has worked for nearly 30 years at the Lawrence Avenue school of the 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, day programs and residences citywide.

What drew you to ADAPT? I saw a telethon for United Cerebral Palsy and disabled children were on the program. I like working with people…

Lillian Palladino
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Lillian Palladino, Susan E. Wagner HS on Staten Island

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.”

Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine

Showing their pride

Hundreds of occupational therapists, physical therapists and educators donned UFT T-shirts on May 13 for the UFT Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter’s day of solidarity to increase visibility for their chapter and for the work they do.

Around the UFT

Group of people pose for the camera

Nurse Recognition Day 2019

“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.

Three people standing in front of artwork

Using art to deliver an important message

Dozens of posters from 16 schools were on display at UFT headquarters on May 21 for the awards ceremony of the UFT BRAVE program’s fifth annual video contest and the UFT’s Young Artists Unite Against Bullying poster contest.

Members from PS 106 vie for the award as the best cheering section.

District 11 Scholarship Dinner

A crowd of 600-plus packed Villa Barone Manor in the Bronx on May 8 for the UFT's third annual District 11 Scholarship Dinner, featuring dinner, dancing, awards and 52 raffle baskets.

Students from Art and Design HS in Manhattan draw portraits of members and fello

Students show off skills at fair

From vintage educational memorabilia to cutting-edge drones and 3D printers, the UFT Spring Education Conference’s exhibit hall put the best of New York City’s career and technical education high schools on display.

Three women sitting and smiling

Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony 2019

"We are not babysitters, we are early childhood educators serving New York,” Chapter Chair Tammie Miller said on May 11 as UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter members gathered for the union’s sixth annual Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Summer prescription drug plan tips for in-service members

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.

Your Well-being
Rainbow paint on a finger

Creating schools that welcome LGBTQ kids

There is a lot that educators can do to make the school environment more welcoming for these students — and a more inclusive environment for all students and staff.

You Should Know

Grants, Awards & Freebies
A teacher with young students

Grants, Awards & Freebies

See our list of current opportunities for educators to receive funds and recognition for their hard work and dedication. 

Q&A on the Issues
Hand holding a syringe pulling vaccination

Protecting yourself from measles

A national measles outbreak, including more than 400 cases in New York City, has generated concern. This Q&A from the New York City Department of Health answers some of the most common questions.

Secure Your Future
Looseleafs labeled Retirement plan and Pension

Filing for retirement, step by step

It's the time of year when many TRS members are thinking about retirement. If you are considering this major step when the school year ends, here are some things to think about or do.


Teaching - generic

Being an informed educator

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.

President's Perspective
Labor day parade

The power of unity

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.

NY Voters

Our time

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.



New York City has reached the legal limit of charter schools, which has prompted a big push by charter advocates to raise the cap. Albany needs to stand firm.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Teacher to Teacher
Bulletin board with student work: The anatomy of a fish

Inquiry-based learning with young students

Do you want to help your students explore their interests and extend their learning beyond a scripted curriculum? Consider trying inquiry-based investigations in your early childhood classroom.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Who my students work hard for

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.

New Teacher Diaries

Giving voice to the smallest complaints

I am a high school English teacher that has it pretty good. What follows is my attempt to give voice to the smallest, most insignificant complaints imaginable from my first year.

Retired Teachers News

Teachers want what students deserve

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 Republican…