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New York TeacherMarch 12, 2020

Volume LXI , Issue 5
NY Teacher Cover - Volume LXI #5 2020-0312

Latest News

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta joined by union leaders, state lawmakers and activists
News Stories

UFT: Tax on ultra-wealthy needed to prevent service cuts

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta — joined by union leaders, state lawmakers and activists — announces results of the survey showing that 92% of the state’s voters support new taxes on the ultra-wealthy during a Feb. 10 press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Albany. 

Kickstarter logo
National News

Kickstarter union is first of its kind in tech industry

Workers at the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted to form a union on Feb. 18, becoming the first white-collar, full-time employees in the technology industry to unionize.

A February 2019 strike helped Denver public school teachers earn a salary increase.
National News

Denver teachers earn $9,000 more after strike

One year after Denver’s first teacher strike in a quarter century, public school educators are earning an average of $9,000 more per year.

Bernie Sanders

AFT OKs 3 to endorse for prez

The American Federation of Teachers is encouraging its state and local affiliates and its members to support one of three Democratic candidates for president: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator  Bernie Sanders or Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump makes a very big point.
National News

Trump scraps Defense Department bargaining rights

The Trump administration has issued a memo that sets in motion the denial of collective bargaining rights to some 750,000 unionized civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Feature Stories

Charles Cogen at Guild Rally
Today's history lesson

March 16, 1960: The UFT is founded

At the old Astor Hotel on Broadway and 44th Street, the Teachers Guild and the High School Teachers Association merged on March 16, 1960, to form the United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

Underpaid and overworked teachers, with miserable working conditions and overbearing supervisors, needed the protection of a strong, united union before 1960. But many issues dividing teachers stood in the way.

In 1935, infighting among several leftist factions in the Teachers Union, the city's first union of teachers, led many members to defect to form the Teachers Guild. Then in 1947, incensed high school teachers left the Guild for the High School Teachers Association when the state Legislature imposed a single salary scale. Until then, high school teachers had been paid more than their elementary school counterparts because they were required to have a master's degree and to pass special licensing exams. Lurking in the background was also the notion that it was easier to teach younger children, creating more division among the teachers.

A pro-merger group, the Committee for Action through Unity, worked in secret to unite the Teachers Guild and the High School Teachers Association. It devised a plan for a "promotional increment" that would entitle all teachers with a master's or its equivalent to more money, bridging the biggest divide between them and opening the door to solidarity.

Students show off their puppets
Member Profiles

Painting the bigger picture

Janet Lombardi and her son, Zach, are both Staten Island teachers, who share their passion for activism through art with their elementary school students.

A room with a rocking chair and ottoman

A room for nursing moms

IS 61 now has a “calm, quiet and clean” lactation room thanks to the efforts of Hearing Education Services Chapter Leader Raquel Sepulveda and the school's principal and parent coordinator.

Member Spotlight

Matthew Foglino headshot
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Matthew Foglino, Wings Academy HS, the Bronx

Wings Academy HS Chapter Leader Matthew Foglino's adept use of the operational issues process not only addressed a paperwork problem for his members but also solved it for hundreds of other teachers at a dozen or more Bronx high schools who were facing the same issue.

LaWanda Riddick
What I Do

What I do: LaWanda Riddick, home instruction teacher

LaWanda Riddick provides science instruction — and a listening ear — to junior high and high school students in Brooklyn who qualify for home instruction for medical reasons.

Around the UFT

Members share a laugh at the information table at the UCS partner expo.

‘Instrumental in our success’

Forty youth organizations took part in the second annual partner expo for the UFT's community schools program, United Community Schools, on Jan. 30 in Shanker Hall at union headquarters in Manhattan.

Paras show off their T-shirts

Fit to a T

UFT members met at the Staten Island borough office on Feb. 6 to design T-shirts celebrating the 100th day of the school year on Feb. 14.

Panel members listen on during the Building Power at the school level event.

Using the tools in the contract

Putting power in the hands of members in the schools was the theme of a panel discussion at the UFT’s Queens borough office on Jan. 30. The panel featured 11 chapter leaders, representing every district and grade level in Queens, who discussed how they successfully empowered members in their schools to advocate for their rights as union members.

Two colleagues engage in a group activity during a workshop.

‘The building blocks of organizing’

About 30 District 75 members learned how to organize their colleagues to get politically active and advocate for their interests as workers at a political action workshop at union headquarters on Feb. 25.

Three women walking out of UFT headquarters

A good read

Members collect free books for their classrooms and their homes at a First Book event on Feb. 1 at the UFT’s Staten Island borough office.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Extended child care leave

Many UFT-represented members have a unique and valuable benefit: the ability to take an extended child care leave and return to their job afterward. This benefit is for those who want to take more time off than paid parental leave or a FMLA benefit will allow.

Know Your Rights

Programs and professional activities

The UFT-DOE contract’s provisions regarding teaching programs and professional activity assignments give teachers a voice while providing for a fair and objective selection process.

You Should Know

For Your Information

New option for getting maintenance drugs

The UFT Welfare Fund prescription drug benefit has been enhanced. In-service members who are eligible for UFT Welfare Fund benefits now have a new convenient option for picking up their long-term medications for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol or asthma.

Q&A on the Issues

Student Debt Relief Program for members

The UFT launched the Student Debt Relief Program in late 2018 after members told the union the burden of student debt is one of their most pressing concerns. Since then, more than 1,500 members have seen a reduction in their monthly payments and look forward to significant loan forgiveness after 10 years. Here's what you need to know about the program.

Secure Your Future

Demystifying terminology

Members of the city’s Teachers’ Retirement System receive many TRS communications and have access to TRS publications that may include unfamiliar words and phrases. This column defines some of those.


President's Perspective

Funding our future

The UFT is once again marshalling its forces to ensure we get a state budget that protects public education in New York City.


Activism for educational growth

We teach — and our students live and learn — in a world of rapid change, with new technological tools for navigating that world at our fingertips. For academic high school educators, it’s an exciting and challenging time. Do we have a role in creating innovative teaching environments for our students and professional learning settings for ourselves? I say yes.


Career goals change students’ motivation

There’s a certain seriousness and maturity in the manner in which such students approach their work that was often missing in traditional academia. When students see employment and financial possibilities as their goal, they are innately motivated. 


In praise of school nurses

I enjoyed your profile of school nurse Zully Brons-Bailey.


Never Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg cannot be elected president. 

Editorial Cartoons

Public school proud

The UFT Charter School's Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 28 to bring the school under the supervision of the city’s Department of Education as a regular public school. Educators at the school say they hope the move will provide greater access for their students to a variety of public school resources.

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Online note taking

Online note taking means no more lost or forgotten notes, missing or torn notebook pages or illegible writing that must be deciphered after the fact.

Teacher to Teacher

Civics amplifies students’ voices

Participating in civics gives students the ability to champion causes, organize, disseminate information and influence public opinion. And through civic experiences, they learn they have a voice.

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom

Book shopping helper

I created this 'book shopping helper' this year for my students with special needs.

New Teacher Articles

Get your school supplies without paying for them

It is possible to finance classroom projects with grants, donations and other money-saving strategies.

New Teacher Profiles

‘It’s not called gym anymore’

Jerry Kane says he's had the three best jobs anyone could have. "I coached basketball, I was a sports reporter and now I'm a phys ed teacher," says Kane, a second-year educator at PS 38 on Staten Island.

Retired Teachers News

Retired Teachers Chapter logo (RTC)

Si Beagle corrections

  • BRONX: XS 807 Polymer Clay Jewelry. Mold and form polymer clay into an endless variety of jewelry components that can be assembled into one-of-a-kind creations. Learn the basics of using this technique, tools, textures and more.
    Two Friday sessions: March 27; April 3. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. $12 includes registration and materials. R. Demers.
  • BROOKLYN: KS 207 Beginner/Intermediate Conversational Italian. Required book: "Ultimate Italian Beginner-Intermediate" 1st edition (ISBN-13:978-1400009671).
  • NASSAU: NS 101 Retirees Read Book Club. Please read "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth for the first class.
  • QUEENS: QS 103 Crochet & Knit. Time: 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
    WS 808 Intro to Meditation. Price: $6.
    WS 812 Spring Crafts. Time: 10 a.m.–noon.
    WS 814 Alfred Hitchcock Movies. Price: $6.
  • Florida seminars are $2, not $10, as it states in Si Beagle.


Retired Teachers Chapter logo (RTC)

Age to start minimum distributions is now 72

The age at which required minimum distributions (RMDs) must begin has been changed from 70½ to 72. This change is effective for individuals who reach age 70½ after Dec. 31, 2019, and who have since left active service.

Retired Teachers Chapter logo (RTC)

Rules for working after retirement

If you are a UFT retiree who plans to reenter the workforce on a full- or part-time basis, you must follow some important rules or you will jeopardize your pension and Social Security benefits.