Activist Velma Hill and UFT founder Albert Shanker had crossed paths in the civil rights movement. So when Hill, armed with a master’s in education from Harvard, decided she wanted to organize paraprofessionals, she approached Shanker in 1968.
To organize paras, he said, she would have to become one.
“I was very much for that,” says Hill, 80. With the union’s help, the founder and first chair of the UFT’s Paraprofessionals Chapter got a job at PS 122 in Manhattan.
This school year marks the chapter’s 50th anniversary, and its 27,000 members are men and women of all races and ethnicities.
When Hill began, paras were mostly poor African-American and Hispanic women.
The UFT has formed a partnership with the National Student Debt Forgiveness Center and longtime Retired Teachers Chapter legal provider Feldman, Kramer & Monaco to help Department of Education-employed members burdened with student debt find, navigate and apply for federal debt relief or the right debt forgiveness program. The average student loan debt balance for a teacher is $40,000, according to a Federal Reserve survey.
UFT members overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with the city Department of Education that gives members a compounded 7.7 percent pay raise over 43 months, UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced at Teacher Union Day on Nov. 4.
“This event and this room is for everybody,” said a beaming Silverio Pacifico, the instructional coach at the new UFT Teacher Center at PS 211 in the Bronx, as he raised an apple-cider toast to colleagues for their hard work preparing for the Nov. 14 grand opening.
The union faced some of the gravest threats in its history over the past year. At Teacher Union Day, members celebrated how the UFT had emerged stronger than ever because they had banded together to face those challenges.
Everybody got into the act at PS 209 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, when it came to raising money to buy coats and other winter clothing items for the annual UFT Thanksgiving Luncheon for homeless students.
Like most educators in professional development sessions, teachers at PS 249 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, discuss theories and best practices. But at PS 249, teachers also get a unique opportunity to test out the strategies they learn on students right away.
In a traditional PD session, teachers might observe each other modeling a strategy and then go back to try it in their own classrooms during the school day. But educators at PS 249 wanted to get immediate feedback during professional learning sessions that would also benefit students.
So staff members at PS 249 used the greater flexibility they have as a PROSE school to put to creative use the designated time in the workday for school-based professional development.
Teachers meet in grade-level “achievement teams” to target a particular area of instruction. This year, the focus for the whole school is writing — in particular, how to hold more…
When her former principal at PS/MS 108 in East Harlem declared, “The UFT is bad for teachers, bad for students and bad for schools,” Chapter Leader Amanda Walsh accepted the challenge and stood up to him.
Janet Caba is a college counselor at West Bronx Academy for the Future, a small Grade 6–12 school where each year she helps the graduating class of about 50 students make decisions about their higher education.
Some 200 teachers on Nov. 3 attended “Celebrating Cultural Relevance in our Languages Other than English Classroom,” the 21st annual professional development conference of the New York City Association of Foreign Language Teachers/UFT and the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers.
Kasandra Charles took a friend, a new public school parent, to a UFT parent conference in Queens on Nov. 10. It was “the best way to introduce her to the school system,” Charles said. The ninth annual Queens parent conference, and the union conferences for parents held in the other four boroughs this fall, all had warm and welcoming atmospheres and a wealth of information.
“How are we going to translate today’s learning and our collective power into making a difference on behalf of the people we serve?” asked Anne Goldman, the UFT’s vice president for non-DOE members, at the 2018 Professional Issues Conference of the Federation of Nurses/UFT on Nov. 16.
Jackie Herman, the chapter leader at IS 98 in Brooklyn, has volunteered every year at the Thanksgiving Luncheon that the UFT Middle School Division hosts with the Coalition for the Homeless since it was first held five years ago. But the event never ceases to pull at her heartstrings.
If you are a paraprofessional, have you ever wondered what your rights are in terms of leave time and absence from work? You earn one sick leave day for every month in which you are in service for at least 16 calendar days. The maximum number of sick leave days earnable in a school year is 10 for September through June.
Just two years ago, with a hostile new administration in the White House and with the Janus case bearing down on us at the Supreme Court, things looked much bleaker. We didn’t panic. We had a plan, and we took it one step at a time.
It’s no secret that teachers can suffer burnout after years on the job. It’s a stressful profession in which teachers give their all every day. For 30 years, the Peer Intervention Program has been helping teachers get their groove back or make a career change if they decide to do so.
The UFT has established a partnership with the National Student Debt Forgiveness Center to assist members in applying for federal programs that can help them dig out from their burdensome student debt. It couldn’t happen at a better time.
A five-year veteran of Major League Lacrosse, Kieran McArdle is a first-year K–5 physical education teacher at PS 48 in upper Manhattan and the embodiment of what the city’s Department of Education hopes to achieve with PE Works.