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New York TeacherMarch 7, 2019

Volume LX, Number 7

Cover Stories

Say goodbye to SESIS

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After almost a decade of complaints, malfunctions and payments of more than $73 million to thousands of UFT members to compensate them for work outside school hours, the Department of Education is finally pulling the plug on the $130 million Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) that it launched in 2011.

While not offering details about how long the phase-out of the troubled system will take, DOE officials said it will be more than a year before they can begin to build a new system. [[nid:110853; float: right; styleName:article_x_small_auto]]…

Q&A on the Issues

School safety

School safety is a prerequisite for teaching and learning. Here are answers to some of the most common questions that school-based UFT members ask.

Music teacher Elana Master plays boomwacker instruments with her students.

A wonderful gift

The PTA at PS 705 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, gave the school’s teachers a remarkable gift: $750 each to use at their discretion during the school year.

Latest News

class size, overcrowded, overcrowding

New contractual process kicks in to address oversize classes

The UFT began an expedited process of contract arbitration to resolve oversize classes in five chronically overcrowded high schools as the class-size reduction provisions in the new DOE-UFT contract took effect.

Chicago charter school educators win pay parity

Charter school teachers and paraprofessionals in Chicago ended their two-week strike on Feb. 18 after the Chicago International Charter School network promised to increase their salaries to the same level as educators in traditional public schools — a raise of nearly 35 percent over the term of the contract.

Denver retreats on merit pay after teachers’ strike

Denver teachers voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 25 to ratify a tentative agreement between their union and the school district that ended a three-day strike earlier in the month.

Woman standing at podium with crowd of people behind her

50 schools join Bronx plan

Fifty schools in the Bronx, East New York, Brownsville and Far Rockaway will join the Bronx Collaborative Schools Plan, an initiative that empowers educators at these schools to drive school improvement.

Michael Mulgrew standing in front of podium and a large display screen

New contract gives more voice — so use it!

The state of the union — as in the United Federation of Teachers — is good, UFT President Michael Mulgrew reported to the Delegate Assembly on Feb. 13.

Feature Stories

Nickemil Concepcion
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduate: Nickemil Concepcion, ballet dancer

[[nid:110881; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]There were studio mirrors in the apartment where Nickemil Concepcion grew up. “My mom would have these parties, and I would just sit and watch her dance,” he remembers. “She always had music on, and we kids — I have an older brother and a younger sister — would dance, too.” When there was an opportunity to attend a summer dance program, Concepcion told his mother, “I’ll go, but I’m not doing ballet.” But life has a way of intervening and “I was better at ballet than I was at tap and jazz,” he says. Public schools, including Ballet Tech, nurtured Concepcion’s natural talent, and his photo hangs in the hallway there, celebrating a career that began on Broadway in “Cinderella” when he was 11, just two years older than his younger son, who is in 4th grade at the Manhattan school. At 14, Concepcion was the lead in a short film called “Avenue X.” At 17, he left school — later earning his GED — to dance for six years with a company directed by renowned dancer and choreographer Eliot Feld, the co-founder of Ballet Tech. He then traveled the world as a principal dancer for 12 years with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. When asked what teachers and artistic directors saw in him, Concepcion reluctantly offers, “raw talent and a tendency to jump, to take the initiative to say, I don’t know i…

The delegation that delivered supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands included UFT P

Unions to the rescue

Thanks to a partnership between the UFT, NYSUT and the AFT, every single teacher in the U.S. Virgin Islands — 1,400 in all — received a tote bag full of school supplies to help their classrooms recover from the 2017 hurricanes that devastated the islands.

A 3rd-grader gets the right amount of fresh basil into the package.

Fresh from the farm

Vital Brooklyn, a collaboration between the UFT, the state Department of Agriculture and Grow New York City, aims to promote healthy and affordable eating through fresh produce markets at schools in central Brooklyn that are in some of the state's most disadvantaged communities.

More in Feature Stories

Member Spotlight

Viral lesson

[[nid:110916; float: left; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]She set out to inspire her students but ended up inspiring thousands of people across the world.

Paraprofessional Hollie Tubbs chose to decorate her classroom door at PS 231 @ PS 54, a District 75 school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with an image of a black woman for this year’s Black History Month. The result went viral on social media, getting hundreds of thousands of likes on Instagram and Facebook. Her door has since been on the cover of the New York Daily News and featured in national media.

“I wanted my students to see themselves in that door,” said Tubbs. “I wanted these children to be able to see themselves in a positive light.”

Tubbs also wanted to celebrate her colleagues. “I wanted to put up a woman because of all the women that work in the classroom,” she said. “Each one of us brings our own special talents to the kids.”

What happened next, she said, was “completely unexpected and…

Jonathan Rothman (left), the winner of a 2018 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teac

Creating problem-solvers

“My goal is that students start to see themselves as problem-solvers, and that there’s a process by which we approach problems using the lens of the tools we have in class,” says Academy for Software Engineering in Manhattan teacher Jonathan Rothman, who was awarded a 2018 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics.

Jeanette Acevedo
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Jeanette Acevedo, Automotive HS, Brooklyn

When teacher Jeanette Acevedo arrived at Automotive HS in Brooklyn in September 2015, she was amazed to discover there was no chapter leader and “everyone was afraid.” “I wasn’t afraid,” she declared, “so I ran for chapter leader and won unanimously. What a year that was.” 

More in Member Spotlight

Around the UFT

‘Nothing to prove anymore’

More than 70 CTE educators — and the success of career and technical education in city public schools — were celebrated at the UFT’s 2019 Career and Technical Education Awards Ceremony on Feb. 8 at UFT headquarters in lower Manhattan.

And while officials recently touted the all-time high graduation rate of 76 percent in New York City public schools in 2018, the graduation rate in city schools running CTE programs was even higher at 83 percent.

“We have nothing to prove to anyone anymore,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who taught in a CTE school for 12 years, told the overflow crowd of nearly 600. “We stand here in community together leading New York City with the highest graduation rate of any cohort inside any of our schools.” …

Learning the ropes

Seventy members attended a UFT Meet and Greet on Jan. 30 at the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex in Chelsea, where they heard a presentation on topics including pension, licensing and certification, safety and teacher evaluations.

‘The dream still demands’

Guided by the theme “The dream still demands,” the 16th annual UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner was both a celebration of the gains made and a reflection on the work still to be done for civil rights causes including racial equality and education equity.

You Should Know

You Should Know

UFT dues can only be deducted from state taxes now

Under the new federal tax law, union dues and other miscellaneous itemized deductions are no longer permitted. 
But union members in the New York State may deduct their union dues from their state income taxes if they itemize deductions on their state taxes.

Secure Your Future
Hexagon with green background showing piggy bank

Your pension: A valuable union benefit

Most members of the UFT are lucky to be among the minority of U.S. workers who still have a traditional defined-benefit pension that provides regular payments for life based on a formula that takes into account years of service, salary and age.


Proud mom Marisol Santiago (right) with her daughter, Denise Montes, the winner

Are you CTE Proud? We want to know

The union launched a CTE Proud campaign to highlight the extraordinary things happening in your schools every day, and you can play a role in it.

President's Perspective
Student Debt Loans

A way to ease the burden of student debt

We asked, and you told us loud and clear: The burden of student debt is one of your most pressing concerns. We listened and are now offering participation in the Student Debt Relief Program for UFT members only.

line art, people standing in rows hand in hand

Counting on us

New York State is in danger of losing two of its 27 Congressional seats and billions of dollars of federal government aid if next year’s U.S. census shows a decline in the state’s population.


Good riddance

It’s not right to dance on a grave, but with SESIS we’ll make an exception.

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Using Google Earth across the curriculum

Measure how Alaska’s glaciers have receded. See how a New York City block has changed since 1930. Trace Marco Polo’s journey through Asia. Google Earth is a powerful online tool that enables you to integrate mapping into nearly every subject you teach.

Teacher to Teacher

Mindfulness for pre-K students

Life in a classroom can be chaotic, stressful and unpredictable. I try to set up clear expectations for my pre-K students about how to handle stressful moments.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Black History Month door-decorating contest

Michelle Obama is an inspiration to so many, including the students in my advisory class.

New Teacher Articles

Planning field trips

No matter what grade or subject you teach, there’s a trip destination for you. Here are some tips to help you plan your next field trip.

Retired Teachers News

RTC members have been attending Annual Meetings this winter, including one in Na

On the road again!

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[[nid:110909; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]Each year my colleagues and I go on the road for Annual Meetings, mostly from January through March, with our far-flung retirees across the country and in Puerto Rico. Adding these meetings to our monthly October to June local RTC meetings offers all retirees an opportunity to hear updates on benefits and get the general lay of the land.

Members often travel hours to attend these gatherings in Raleigh, Atlanta, Phoenix, Nevada, eight spots in Florida, two in New Jersey and many just outside New York Ci…