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New York TeacherJune 7, 2018

Volume LX, Number 10

Cover Stories

Seven people joined hands

‘Our destiny rests in our hands’

With the U.S. Supreme Court possibly days away from issuing a ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case, UFT President Michael Mulgrew urged chapter leaders and delegates at the May 16 Delegate Assembly to make sure members in their chapters understand what is at stake for them in the case.

The organizations behind the lawsuit are trying, he said, to deprive workers of their ability to come together and have a voice in the political process and at the bargaining table.

“Once our members have the facts, they will make good decisions,” Mulgrew said.

Observers expect the Supreme Court to rule against unions and give government workers across all states the option of declining to pay union fees even though they benefit from that union‘s contract negotiations and services.

Mulgrew said the goal of the right-wing groups funding the case is to weaken unions economically and, as a result, politically so…

Students work together to paint a prop instrument.
Learning Curve

Joining the ‘maker movement’

PS 15 in Manhattan is one of a growing number of schools that are dedicating spaces for students to design, build, experiment and explore.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses the City Council during the April 30 hea

City’s ‘gender bias’ blocks paid parental leave

UFT President Michael Mulgrew on April 30 slammed the city’s reluctance to extend paid parental leave to UFT members as “clear gender bias.”

Latest News

Council members urged to back UFT programs

New York City Council members attending the UFT’s May 3 legislative breakfast heard why it’s important to continue supporting five of the UFT’s signature programs: Teacher’s Choice, the Community Learning Schools Initiative, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program and the Dial-a-Teacher homework helpline.


State government takes over special ed in Chicago

The Illinois state Board of Education on May 16 assumed far-reaching authority over special education in Chicago’s public schools. 

Rules - generic

Missouri passes new restrictions on unions

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos denounced state constitutional amendments preventing public funds from being spent on private religious schools in a May 16 speech to the Alfred E. Smith Foundation in New York City. These amendments are on the books in 37 states, including New York and DeVos’ home state of Michigan.

line art, people standing in rows hand in hand

North Carolina teachers stage one-day walkout

North Carolina experienced the largest organized political action by teachers in the state’s history on May 16 as tens of thousands of teachers walked off the job to rally in the state capital for higher wages and education funding. The event shut down public schools for more than 1 million students.

Hands on dollar - generic

DeVos bashes bans on tax dollars in religious schools

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos denounced state constitutional amendments preventing public funds from being spent on private religious schools in a May 16 speech to the Alfred E. Smith Foundation in New York City. These amendments are on the books in 37 states, including New York and DeVos’ home state of Michigan.

Feature Stories

Pelham Academy of Academics and Community Engagement teacher Mona Parkinson make

Ready for prom

Nearly 4,000 8th-graders and high school seniors will be decked out for end-of-year celebrations thanks to eight UFT prom events held throughout the city in April and May. [[nid:107106; float: left; styleName:article_x_half_auto]][[nid:107115; float: left; styleName:article_x_half_auto]]

“It’s awesome,” said Jasmine Dickson, a science teacher who accompanied students from MS 224 in Mott Haven to the prom event at the UFT’s Bronx borough office on May 4. “Some kids were apprehensive. They didn’t think they’d find something here, but they did.”

[[nid:107112; float: right; …

Jon Favreau
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduate: Jon Favreau, actor and filmmaker

Jon Favreau says his four years at Bronx HS of Science are indelible for him. "Only now can I appreciate what a great life experience it was," he says. "I got a good working knowledge of many different cultures and as I travel or meet people throughout my life, I can draw upon that."

Easel does it

Visitors to the UFT’s Queens borough office in April were greeted by a curious sight: an artist with a tray full of oil paints standing before an easel in the 5th-floor waiting room.

Member Spotlight

Chapter Leader Shoutout
Farrah Alexander

Kudos to Farrah Alexander, PS 64, Manhattan

There was no chapter leader at PS 64 in the East Village when teacher Farrah Alexander returned from maternity leave in September so she stepped up to the plate. “I know that complaining is not productive and that we should be working together, especially in a negotiating year and with so many anti-union threats facing us,” she said. “So I slowly raised my hand.”

Around the UFT

Two women in front of a mural

Mural gives students ‘voice’

There’s a new mural outside 751M in the East Village that staff members say captures the diversity, individuality and love of the nearly 60 students who created it.

Two women posing, One with plaque in her hand.

Feeling ‘blessed’ — and now honored

Twenty-six members of the UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter were recognized at the chapter's fifth annual Provider Appreciation Awards on May 1. While it was their night to be recognized, the award winners said their true rewards come from doing their jobs every day.

One man and two boys holding books

First Book event in St. Albans, Queens

What’s the fastest way to have 40,000 books disappear? Bring them to a UFT First Book event, of course.

May Day

May Day rally

UFT members joined fellow unionized workers and immigrants to stand together as Partners in Power, the theme of the 2018 May Day rally in Washington Square Park.

BRAVE “What Would You Do?” skit

In the Middle — UFT’s anti-bullying student conference

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Anthony Harmon, the UFT director of parent and community outreach, reminded about 300 middle schoolers and their teachers and counselors of that famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi as they prepared to head for workshops during the UFT’s anti-bullying conference, “In the Middle,” on May 10.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
Teacher tutoring child

Per-session activities

Here are some of the rules that govern these per-session activities for teachers, school psychologists and social workers and paraprofessionals.

Your Well-being
Image of brain with common mental health issues in words

Cultivating mental health

Mental illness is a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings or behavior and causes that person distress and difficulty in functioning. It is a prevalent health condition that is treatable, even when chronic.

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. 

You Should Know
Mulgrew at podium introduces the UFT app.

Your new UFT membership card and app

The UFT mailed a new membership card with a member ID number to every UFT member in May. The UFT app for members only is now available for download, too.

Secure Your Future
Piggy bank with dollar sign - generic

Your TDA options when you retire

The Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) have designed their TDA programs so you have choices in how to handle your money when you retire. Here are some things to consider about these three alternatives as you ponder what works best for you.


Teacher Andrea Lingstuyl (standing) accompanies UFT Vice President for Career an

CTE students put theory into practice

At the HERstory brunch in March at union headquarters, UFT members were able to relax while receiving massages and feel pampered while having their nails manicured and their makeup applied, all by career and technical education students from Queens Vocational HS in Long Island City. Those 25 cosmetology students were demonstrating how the CTE process works, applying the skills they mastered in school in a real-world setting.

President's Perspective
Anxiety, tears over new state exams

Testing students and teachers

Albany is finally devising a teacher evaluation system that does not hinge on how their students — or, in many cases, how students in their school whom they don’t even teach — perform on high-stakes state tests.


Fighting back

It would be a frightening moment in the workplace for anyone: a person you are trying to help suddenly attacks.
Richard Carranza (left) meets the press at City Hall after being named New York

The right words

Words matter. When Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza uses the word “segregation,” he’s tackling head-on a critical issue in New York City public schools.

Teaching Resources

Research shows
red stage curtain with light coming from the left

Theater a better teacher than movies

Students who are taken to see a live theater production derive educational benefits that are not gotten from seeing a story told on film, according to new research in the journal Educational Researcher.

Teacher to Teacher
Students with their hands raised

Helping students become self-aware learners

I started to research metacognition in young children because I wanted my students to be aware of their own learning and thinking and take ownership over their own successes.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Where languages are welcomed

We integrated the first languages of English language learners in our 7th-grade literacy unit on poetry in both integrated co-teaching and general education classes.

New Teacher Articles
Challenge - generic

Building resilience in students

Your students are dealing with challenges and complex emotions outside the classroom that can affect their learning. IIf you can think of these issues as opportunities to help your students build resilience, you can begin to establish a classroom environment that supports your students’ social and emotional needs as well as their academic ones.

Retired Teachers News

Together we can do it. Unionism - generic

Doing the good nearest to us

Since many of us still live in an academic-year mindset, I thought this column should round out the semester.

There is a current superhero craze in movies, on TV, in comics and funny pages as we mark the 80th anniversary of “Superman.” It’s a genre that offers a theatrical “deus ex machina” rescue of those in trouble. But absent a superhero, we still can have a positive view of our day-to-day lives.

It’s easy to allow all the bad news of our national nightmare to get us down. We need healthful options as personal tonics. For example, since the November 2016 onset of our national nightmare, I no longer subject myself to hourly political blather, believing good or bad news will find its way to me when it’s time to take positive action.

The question is: How do we achieve social good when the national odds seem so stacked against us?

One answer is local grassroots activism —…