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New York TeacherJuly 4, 2019

Volume LX, Number 11

Cover Stories

Gabrielle DiDonato of PS 69 on Staten Island used her Teacher’s Choice money to

Teacher’s Choice gains regular line

Teacher’s Choice, since it was initiated more than 25 years ago by the UFT, has been funded as a special allocation of the City Council. In a major milestone for the program that reimburses educators for some of their out-of-pocket spending on classroom supplies, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Council agreed on June 14 to allocate funds for Teacher’s Choice as part of the annual city budget.

The decision to baseline Teacher’s Choice in the city budget for at least the next three years came after years of UFT members sharing how they used their Teacher’s Choice funds to enhance learning for their students. Those stories — of funds spent on classroom libraries, telescopes, school supplies for homeless children and other items — helped convince the mayor and City Council members of the program’s direct benefit to classrooms.

The Council and the mayor agreed to set the program’s base funding…

Hospital chargers chart

Albany passes patient protection legislation

In a big victory for the UFT, union-supported legislation curbing hospitals from charging exorbitant fees to out-of-network patients for emergency care passed both houses of the state legislature in June and now needs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature to become law. 

Abe Levine discusses a resolution at a Retired Teachers Chapter general membersh

Abe Levine, a UFT founder, dies

Abe Levine, the first vice president for elementary schools and a steadfast presence at the UFT until his final months, died at age 89 on June 13.

Latest News

Seal of State of California

East Bay teachers’ strike ends after three weeks

Educators in California’s Bay Area ended their three-week strike on June 9, enabling them to be back in their classrooms for the final week of school. The strike, the New Haven Unified School District’s first, saw nearly 600 teachers, school counselors, psychologists, speech therapists and nurses join picket lines outside their schools in a fight over pay.

Marchers wearing red and holding signs "Fund our schools now."

‘We can afford to do better’

Some 18,000 teachers in the Clark County School District in Nevada have vowed to strike if the state doesn’t come through with funding to pay for salary increases without cuts to the classroom.

Feature Stories

Jo Ann Westhall inspires her students at PS 31, Queens, to think big. “If you ca

Starting young

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[[nid:112553; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]For Jo Ann Westhall, an elementary school education includes reading, writing, arithmetic — and computer science.

Westhall, a computer science teacher and the chapter leader at PS 31 in Bayside, Queens, brought a subject reserved for middle and high school students to children as young as 4 years old.

“By increasing exposure to computer science and STEM-related careers at an early age, I feel you empower students to consider opportunities they may not have otherwise,” said Westhall, who received a city Department of Education Big Apple Award for teaching this year. “Early exposure might close the gap for underrepresented communities in these fields.”

At first, providing that exposure would prove easier said than done.

“In the very beginning, I didn’t know where to turn,” said Westhall. “There wasn’t a lot ou…

Classroom teacher Allison Scarpa admires her 3rd-graders’ work.

Building bridges

When Aaron Eng-Achson, an English as a New Language teacher at PS 84 in Astoria, Queens, decided to launch an intensive study of bridges with his 3rd- and 5th-grade students, he knew exactly who to turn to in his school for expertise: custodial engineer Rogelio Dakanay.

A student shows off the eyeglasses she received thanks to the efforts of West Pr

A visionary

Nicole Feliciano, a teacher and chapter leader at West Preparatory Academy on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, 
is the recipient of a 2019 Big Apple Award for helping students get much-needed eye exams and prescription eyeglasses.

Member Spotlight

Adam Shapiro
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Adam Shapiro, PS 116 in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Even before he was elected chapter leader at PS 116 in Bushwick in September 2018, Adam Shapiro led a “brigade” of 25 UFT members to a meeting at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office to discuss their principal’s intimidation of staff and extensive breaches of the DOE-UFT contract.

Kingsborough Early College Secondary School teacher Elizabeth Kullman is flanked

Teacher and counselor honored for saving co-worker

UFT members Connor Valvo, a teacher at Kingsborough Early College Secondary School, and Janu Williams, a school counselor at the HS for Sports Management, both in Brooklyn, were honored by the city DOE in June for providing lifesaving assistance to colleague Elizabeth Kullman last November.

Around the UFT

UFT President Michael Mulgrew shows off one of the posters members can display i

Making the contract work for us

During the final Delegate Assembly of the school year on June 12, UFT President Michael Mulgrew talked about how the new DOE-UFT contract has given members a greater voice in their workplaces this year.

Celebrating the LGBTQ community at the Brooklyn parade on June 8 are (from left)

Queens and Brooklyn Pride marches

In a landmark year for the LGBTQ community, UFT members and their families marched in Queens on June 2, and in Brooklyn on June 8, to celebrate Pride Month. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, where the patrons of Manhattan’s Stonewall Inn revolted against police brutality and launched the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Max Tuchman (right), who participated in the first union strike and began teachi

Retired Teachers Chapter Luncheon

Nearly 500 retirees shared stories and camaraderie on May 28 at the UFT’s 56th annual Retiree Luncheon at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, honoring fellow members for chapter leadership, political and human rights activities, community service and for 50, 60 and 70 years of union membership.

Christine McNamara from PS 23, a District 75 school in Queens, celebrates with h

They hold ‘the entire school together’

The 33rd annual UFT and DOE School Counselor Recognition Day Awards Ceremony on May 31 at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office recognized the contributions of 26 school counselors from all around the city.

Teacher Cynthia Olsen-Dinkins (left) and school counselor Mary Castelo accompani

'Let’s Talk About It’ substance abuse conference

More than 800 middle and high school students heard what it’s like to struggle with addiction from young people not much older than themselves at a conference on substance abuse co-sponsored by the UFT and held at union headquarters in Manhattan on May 29.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Elderly hands being held by younger hands - generic

Health and Cancer Helpline

Receiving a life-threatening medical diagnosis can be an emotional rollercoaster. The UFT Welfare Fund offers an array of services that can help you navigate the road ahead.

Your Well-being
Summer beach

Managing transitions

As another school year ends, students and educators face transitions. And while summer may be eagerly anticipated, transitions are not easy for everyone. But there are ways to help ensure a healthy transition to summer.

You Should Know

You Should Know
Public Money for Public Schools

Task force seeks more freedom to reject Calif. charters

A California task force on charter schools delivered a report to Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 7 that recommends local school districts have more leeway in deciding whether to approve new charter schools by including criteria like saturation and need for new schools as factors to consider. The task force consisted of charter school representatives, labor unions and local school administrations.

You Should Know
Teach For America Logo

Teach for America helps charter movement

The Walton Family Foundation, created by the founder of Walmart, failed to reveal that its $20 million grant to Teach For America in 2013 to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools had unusual terms intended to boost charter schools.

Q&A on the Issues
Paraprofessional Lead Teacher Assistant

What you need to know about transferring schools

If you want a new opportunity, wish to be closer to home or have been placed in excess, the Open Market Transfer Plan gives you the chance to apply for a position at another school. 

Secure Your Future
Looseleafs labeled Retirement plan and Pension

Passport Fund choices will change in 2020

Next year TRS members’ investment choices, collectively known as the Passport Funds, will change. TRS plans to add two funds and discontinue a third.


Child with a walker

The changing world of special ed

If there is one thing that is a constant in special education, it’s change.

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

Understanding bias and how it affects us

We all carry biases and can benefit from a better understanding of how they affect our relationships with others, personally and professionally.

Reflections and Renewal 10 Years after 9/11

Restore the 9/11 fund

The calamity that was Sept. 11 has receded in memory for many people who were not directly affected by the terrorist attacks. But for the first responders and the people who lived, worked and attended school near Ground Zero — some 425,000 New Yorkers — the tragedy continues to unfold. 

Generic teacher leadership

Teachers leading

When the UFT and the Department of Education launched Teacher Career Pathways seven years ago, it was an effort to give teachers a career path that allowed them to remain teachers and share their hard-earned knowledge for the benefit of their colleagues — with a stipend for the extra responsibilities they take on.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

David Roush (second from left), a television production and media communications

17 winners earn DOE advisory role

"You are the best," schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told 17 Big Apple Award winners at the seventh annual awards ceremony at the city Department of Education headquarters in Manhattan on June 11. In addition to their Big Apple honors, the 17 educators will form the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group.

Woman being kissed on the cheek by little girl

Honored for following their ‘passion’

Nine public school teachers were among the honorees at the annual Blackboard Awards ceremony recognizing outstanding educators on June 10 at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

Linking to Learning
Screenshot of Padlet app

Using online exit slips

Online exit slips are an effective way to get feedback from students, do checks for understanding and even accept suggestions or constructive criticism.

Research shows
Generic teacher leadership

NYC teacher leadership program lauded

New York City’s teacher leadership program is being hailed as an international model for its ability to retain, motivate and encourage collaboration among teachers.

Teacher to Teacher
City College Academy of the Arts students have published eight issues of their n

Read all about it!

When I became a New York City public school teacher three years ago, I was shocked to discover our high school didn’t have a newspaper. So this past January, I turned my 11th-grade ELA class into the school’s newsroom.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career
Two women smiling, holding up UFT bag

Fellows welcomed to UFT, DOE

The UFT family grew by nearly 1,000 new teachers on June 17, as the Department of Education welcomed its newest cohort of New York City Teaching Fellows at an event at City Tech in Brooklyn.

Building Your Career
Classroom with comfortable armchair that says "Readers Throne"

The Readers' Throne

We use the Readers’ Throne in my classroom when students present their independent writing projects. 

New Teacher Articles
Summer beach

Keys to a relaxing but productive summer break

Welcome to summer! Here are some suggestions for making the most out of a relaxing and productive break from school.

Retired Teachers News

RTC Information

UFT continues to use automated dues refund system for retirees

If you are a new retiree, you will notice that full in-service dues were deducted from your summer pay checks. There is no need to request a refund. Upon receipt of all the dues records for UFT members from various city agencies, the accounting department will automatically calculate a refund for all eligible members and send them a check. Checks are expected to be sent out in December.

Check - generic
RTC Information

Summer checks for new retirees

Members who are retiring at the end of the school year will receive four summer checks.

Piggy bank with dollar sign - generic
RTC Information

Changing banks for your EFT retirement payments

If you’re planning to choose a new bank to electronically receive your monthly retirement payments from the Teachers’ Retirement System, keep in mind the following so that you can avoid suspension of your Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).