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New York TeacherSeptember 5, 2019

Volume LXI, Number 1

Low pay pushing teachers out of the profession: Fifty percent of teachers say they’ve considered leaving the profession over low pay, stress and a lack of respect, according to an August report by PDK International, a professional association for educators. Another national poll released in August by the research journal Education Next found a record level of bipartisan support for increasing teachers’ salaries.

Latest News

Plastic heart and stethoscope

Major health care strike brewing in California

More than 37,000 workers at the Kaiser Permanente health care corporation in California have voted to authorize a strike in October over unfair labor practices and understaffing. The walkout would be the nation’s largest strike in more than 20 years.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, the largest union in a coalition covered by the national contract, voted to support a strike, according to the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. Two-thirds of the union’s members voted, with 98 percent of those voting yes, it said. A total of 80,000 Kaiser workers in several other states, as well as the District of Columbia, will have the chance to vote on the strike through September.

Most contracts covering Kaiser employees will expire in October. The unions and their members accuse the company of bargaining in bad faith and insisting on a restrictive agreement prohibiting sympathy s…

50 and 20 US dollar bills with coins

Newark scraps teacher merit-pay scheme

The union representing Newark teachers announced a five-year deal with its school district on Aug. 13 that eliminates merit-based bonuses and allows low-rated teachers to earn pay increases. The changes overturn key elements of a controversial 2012 contract and represent a shift away from former Mayor Cory Booker’s education reform agenda, which sought to introduce corporate-style accountability and compensation practices into public education.

Plastic heart and stethoscope

Major health care strike brewing in California

More than 37,000 workers at the Kaiser Permanente health care corporation in California have voted to authorize a strike in October over unfair labor practices and understaffing. The walkout would be the nation’s largest strike in more than 20 years.

Feature Stories

Learning about sacrifice and compromise

Learning about ‘sacrifice and compromise’

Kids are kids, whether the calendar says 1890, 1910 or 2019.

Signs of respect

‘Signs’ of respect

When Rita Fattorusso invites one of her prekindergarten students to the front of the class to lead morning exercises, the other students pay strict attention. If they don’t, they’ll miss their classmate’s instructions: He uses American Sign Language to tell them to do eight jumping jacks, mimicking the action and counting out the number eight on his fingers.

Member Spotlight

Lucille Swaim

UFT contract guru Lucille Swaim dies

Lucille Swaim, the coordinator of negotiations for every UFT contract from the first one in 1962 until her retirement in 2015, died on July 1 at the age of 87.

Her fingerprints are on every contractual improvement UFT members enjoy today.

“Lucille was a quiet hero,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “She put her heart, soul and intellect into helping generations of educators and UFT members. She helped build this union.”

Swaim came to the UFT in 1961 during efforts to organize city teachers, and she stayed to negotiate the first comprehensive collective bargaining agreement covering teachers anywhere in the nation.

“That contract,” she later said, “broke the ground for teachers to start organizing a…

Christina Gavin
What I Do

What I do: Christina Gavin, school librarian

Christina Gavin is the librarian at the Herbert H. Lehman HS Campus in the Bronx, where she serves 3,200 students and more than 300 staff members in the seven schools that share the building.

Yvonne Reasen
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Yvonne Reasen, Engineering and Technical Academy, Bronx

Bronx Engineering and Technical Academy Chapter Leader Yvonne Reasen used the new expedited resolution process for operational issues, negotiated as part of the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, to get the basic instructional supplies desperately needed by science teachers at her school.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
class size, overcrowded, overcrowding

Class size and instructional materials

As we enter a new school year, teachers should be aware of their rights to reasonable class sizes and basic instructional materials.

Your Well-being

Setting yourself up for a great year

Maybe it’s your first year of teaching, maybe it’s your 21st, but there are always ways to set yourself up for a great school year ahead.

You Should Know

You Should Know

Grievance filed over training $$

The UFT filed a union-initiated grievance over the rate of pay for members who participated in curriculum training this summer for enVisionmath.

You Should Know
Parade of people wearing UFT T-shirts

3 functional chapters elect new leaders

Three of the UFT's functional chapters recently elected new chapter leaders.

You Should Know
City kids state test scores go up again chart

City kids’ state test scores go up again

New York City public school students improved their performance on state math and English tests for grades 3 through 8 for the sixth year in a row, according to 2019 test scores released by the state Education Department on Aug. 22.

You Should Know
Purple hexagon with a piggy bank and dollar symbol representing Teacher's Choice

Teacher’s Choice amounts set

UFT-represented educators are eligible for reimbursement for some of their out-of-pocket classroom expenses through Teacher's Choice.

Q&A on the Issues
Generic Teachers and the observation

Teachers and the observation process

The UFT seized the opportunity presented by the 2018 contract negotiations with the city Department of Education to revise the teacher evaluation system to focus on quality of observations rather than quantity and to incorporate meaningful professional development as part of the process. Here’s what you can expect for the 2019–20 school year.

Secure Your Future
Mature woman laying on the floor looking at her laptop

Pension benefits in a nutshell

With the start of a new school year, we know you’re busy with new students. But while you’re busy thinking about others, the start of the school year is also an excellent time to think about securing your own future.


President's Perspective
Bronx school

Building on our strengths

Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed a restful summer break and you’re re-energized for the year ahead. As always, we’re here to help you meet the challenges and opportunities that present themselves every September. Please extend yourself to the new teachers who are finding their footing in the classroom this year. We’ve all been there, and it can be daunting.

UFT welcomes new teachers

Welcome to your new union family

This September, 3,000 new teachers have joined the city Department of Education’s ranks. Their interests and backgrounds are as diverse as New York City itself. But whether they teach 3-year-olds on Staten Island or high school biology in Brooklyn, they all have one thing in common: They belong to our United Federation of Teachers family.

32BJ president Hector Figueroa leaning into microphone

Figueroa's legacy

Hector Figueroa, the president of 32BJ Service Employees International Union who died on July 11, was an exemplary partner in the critical fight for social and economic justice.

Paraprofessional Lead Teacher Assistant

Keep G&T

In pursuit of equity, the city’s School Diversity Advisory group has proposed getting rid of the gifted and talented program in the public schools. It’s a bad idea.

Teaching Resources

UFT welcomes new teachers

UFT welcomes new teachers

The UFT welcomed thousands of new members into the union at the DOE’s New Teacher Week on Aug. 19 - 21.

Linking to Learning

Grants can fund your technology projects

The start of a school year is a good time to plan how to integrate technology in your classroom. Many teachers have great ideas but do not have access to the hardware or software they need to run with them. Other than asking your principal to purchase equipment on a tight budget, education grants can provide needed funds for technology projects.

Teacher to Teacher
Four book covers illustrated by students reading The Water Park, The Wedding, the Bike

Your students can be graphic novelists

By reading graphic novels and going through the graphic narrative process with the students, I shared an important interest of theirs and saw them take intense ownership of their learning.

Building Your Career

New Teacher Profiles
Teacher sitting on classroom couch holding a book while two young students look on

That's 'LYFE'

Patricia Belluscio left a career in the fashion industry to work with infants and toddlers in the LYFE program.

Inside My Classroom
Chart that reads "How to pick a book"

How to pick a book

It was my goal last school year to encourage my students to pick books to read for fun.

New Teacher Articles
Young women talking to each other while seated in a large group gathering

How to start the new year off right

Welcome to a new school year! The first few weeks may feel like a whirlwind, and you probably have a lot on your mind. Here are just a few tips to help you launch a great year.

Retired Teachers News

Mature women sit at table and share a meal

New Jersey group ‘growing fast’

Judy Rosenstein is “excited” about the challenges facing her as the new leader of the RTC’s New Jersey Section and about “pulling together” as many of the 4,750 UFT retirees living in New Jersey as she can. “With 55-and-over communities springing up all over the state,” she pointed out, “we are growing fast.”

A former chapter leader at Fort Hamilton HS in Brooklyn, Rosenstein is well-suited for the challenge and already has activities planned statewide, starting with a tour of the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair on Sept 20. October will be busy with a tour and book review in the Morven Museum in Princeton on Oct. 16 and the annual luncheon at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe on Oct. 28. The luncheon, she said, is “a wonderful way to connect with other retirees” and to catch up on union developments. On Oct. 30, there will be a meeting about the UFT legal plan at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.

The National Kidne…

Mature red headed woman stands at podium holding a newspaper in hand

Join the RTC for benefits

As a new retiree, you are eligible to become a member of the exclusive 66,000-member UFT Retired Teachers Chapter. Since its founding in 1960, the UFT has kept its retirees engaged and provided a broad array of social, educational, legal and economic services so that the RTC program today is widely considered the best offered to public school teachers nationwide.

Tom Murphy

Importance of discussion

In reaction to one of my columns on the union’s endorsement procedure, I received a message from Ed Beller, a retiree colleague who has a different view on the politics of endorsement. It set me to thinking about the positive nature of internal union discussions on such matters.