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New York TeacherDecember 6, 2018

Volume LX, Number 4

Cover Stories

UFT President Albert Shanker (seated, third from left) and Joseph Monserrat, the

Para pride

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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.

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Steven Kramer (standing) of Retired Teachers Chapter legal provider Feldman, Kra

UFT helps members find student loan relief

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.

Letters with some covered. Finger pointing to one letter.
Learning Curve

Helping students with dyslexia

Researchers estimate that dyslexia affects between 5 and 12 percent of the U.S. population — and as many as 80 percent of students who struggle with reading.

Latest News

Members stuffing ballot in box

New contract ratified overwhelmingly

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.

Cutting the ribbon on the new Teacher Center at CS 300 in the Bronx

It’s all about the support

“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.

Members from PS 180 and other Brooklyn school chapters celebrate their Jules Kol

Turning peril into power

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.

Arizona voters reject voucher expansion

Voters in Arizona overwhelmingly defeated a ballot proposition on Nov. 6 that would have greatly expanded the state’s school voucher program. 

The members at PS 209 in Brooklyn, led by Chapter Leader Elisa Balsamo (front, l

Brooklyn school digs deep

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.

Feature Stories

Art teacher Yaffa Rasowsky leads students in a papier-mâché project.

Brooklyn school uses PROSE to enhance PD

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…

Prekindergartners create a mural based on the story “Maybe Something Beautiful.”

'Beautiful' project

What began as an early-grades literacy event has turned into a schoolwide project to design a  mural for the outside of PS/IS 184, a UFT community learning school in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, Queens.

Union? 100 Percent!

Solidarity is contagious. That’s how it seems in public schools across New York City where UFT chapters are proudly proclaiming they have 100 percent union membership in their schools.

Member Spotlight

Amanda Walsh
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Amanda Walsh, PS/MS 108 in East Harlem

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
What I Do

What I do: Janet Caba, college counselor

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.

Around the UFT

NYC Association of Foreign Language Teachers/UFT conference

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.

Joan Franzese (left) and Hadassah Rosenman show off the balloons they received a

New Retiree Luncheon

Tiffany Bui-Rothman just got back from Warsaw, Poland, and Venice, Italy.

Shola Roberts, a teacher at MS 354, joins in on a flash mob she choreographed th

UFT parent conferences

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.

Nurses (from left) Angela Maloney of VNS, Alicia Schwartz of the UFT staff and C

Federation of Nurses/UFT Professional Issues Conference

“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.

Chapter Advocate Rashad Brown dons a turkey costume to the delight of children d

The true meaning of the holiday

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.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
Cloud image of tags related to sick leave, doctors and benefits

Absences and leaves for paraprofessionals

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.

Your Well-being

Tackling addiction

You can access detox, rehab and intensive outpatient services through your city health insurance if you have a problem with alcohol or substance use.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future
Business man passing money

Borrowing from your retirement funds

One of the many benefits of our Teachers’ Retirement System is that we each have the ability to borrow against our retirement funds.

You Should Know
Generic image - piggybank, teacher's choice

Teacher’s Choice funds must be spent by Jan. 13

The deadline for spending your Teacher’s Choice funds is Jan. 13.

Secure Your Future
Sample of social security card

Social Security changes in 2019

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019, the Social Security Administration announced in October.


Building bridge

Building bridges for educators and students

Let me introduce myself. I’m MaryJo Ginese, the union’s new vice president for special education.

President's Perspective

Achieving our political goals

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.

PIP logo

A guiding light

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.

Student Debt Loans

Lifting the debt burden

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.

Teaching Resources

Teacher to Teacher
Civic online reasoning book cover

Is it fake news?

Students and voters alike have been encountering fake news since long before the 2016 election.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

3, 2, 1, push!

Our new "push wall" has been a huge hit with our 2nd-graders.

New Teacher Profiles
Man playing basketball in gym with students

In his class, learning equals fun and games

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.