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New York TeacherOctober 17, 2013

Volume LV , Issue 3
New York Teacher Cover: Vote on Nov. 5!  - October 17, 2013

Cover Stories

Drive underway to get out vote for de Blasio - 2

Drive underway to get out vote for de Blasio

The UFT has started a big get-out-the-vote drive to get members to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to elect a new mayor of New York City.

“Bill de Blasio has a large lead, but we cannot be complacent,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew in his address to the Delegate Assembly on Oct. 9. “We need to tell voters that Joe Lhota would maintain Mike Bloomberg’s policies, and we cannot allow that to happen.”

UFT phone banks were up and running in all five borough offices starting on Oct. 15, and volunteers will be fanning out for leafleting and door-knocking on behalf of Democratic candidate de Blasio and the union’s other endorsed candidates [see chart at lower right].

Mulgrew told the delegates that Lhota, the Republican candidate, has attacked the union and appeared with his family at the Oct. 8 march and rally organized by charter school impresario Eva Moskowitz. “It was important to see Joe Lhota at the charter school rally,” Mulgrew said. “If that doesn’t motivate you to vote, I don’t know what will.”

Lhota has vowed to double the number of charter schools in the city and continue Bloomberg’s co-location policy. By contrast, de Blasio has proposed charter schools that co-locate with a public school should pay rent if they can afford to. He has also called for a moratorium on new charters.


Family ties

Scientists can tell us all about how dominant and recessive genes determine the color of our eyes, but they haven’t yet isolated the teaching gene. To accomplish that, they need to focus on the three members of a teaching family at Brooklyn’s PS 335 who carry that dominant gene.

Protesters wrap around the block at the rally in August to fully fund education

Philly schools on the brink

Crammed classes, a dearth of supplies and severe program cuts are now the norm in the Philadelphia. The district earlier this year laid off nearly 4,000 school staff and closed 23 schools – 10 percent of the total – displacing about 10,000 students.

Latest News

UFT blasts Bloomberg’s ‘bogus’ suit

Provoking an angry retort from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that the Department of Education is suing the UFT for failing to appoint enough arbitrators to handle teacher disciplinary cases. Mulgrew accused Bloomberg of playing fast and loose with the facts.

Court foils Bloomberg’s health benefit power play

A state judge on Sept. 30 granted a preliminary injunction to the Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition of labor unions representing nearly 500,000 city workers, ordering the Bloomberg administration not to put its health benefits contract for city employees up for bids.

Eva forces families to attend pro-charter ‘campaign rally’

Charter operator Eva Moskowitz closed her schools on Tuesday and ordered students, parents and staff to attend a City Hall demonstration that UFT President Michael Mulgrew called “a thinly disguised campaign rally.”

Community Learning Schools receive 700G boost from Senate

The UFT’s Community Learning Schools Initiative received a welcome $700,000 grant on Sept. 25 from the New York State Senate that will help fund 16 community schools this year.

Delegates — many dressed in pink for breast cancer awareness — vote to approve.

DA: No to high stakes on new tests

The UFT Delegate Assembly on Oct. 9 overwhelmingly approved a pair of resolutions calling for an end to New York City’s overemphasis on testing and a moratorium on attaching high-stakes consequences to the state’s new Common Core tests.

Feature Stories

Brian Bomser
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Brian Bomser, aerospace engineer

Working at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station among rocket ships and spacecraft, Brian Bomser says he is “literally living my dream.” That dream blasted off for Brian as a 7th-grader at Louis Armstrong MS, when the opportunity to attend space camp with his classmates launched him toward a career in aerospace engineering.

PS 34 students strut their stuff waiting for the theater doors to open.

Broadway, here we come!

Professional musicians and performers from Rosie’s Theater Kids introduce students from PS 34 in the East Village to American musical theater by teaching them the dance routines and songs of the genre. The program begins with the class trip to see Matilda.

Around the UFT

Project: Back to School

New York City students joined WPIX-TV weatherman Mr. G for the Coalition for the Homeless’ sixth annual backpack giveaway co-sponsored by the UFT on Sept. 19. The giveaway, held at the coalition’s lower Manhattan offices, was the culminating event of the group’s summer backpack drive, Project: Back to School, which began in July. The UFT, which has partnered on the drive since 2009, donated more than 3,000 book bags — chock full of pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, markers, crayons and other age-appropriate supplies — to this year’s effort. UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised the work of the coalition, which he said the union is very happy to support. “Teachers know better than almost anyone else the grinding effect that poverty and homelessness have on our youth,” Mulgrew said. “We see it firsthand every day in our classrooms, and we have a moral obligation to do what we can to alleviate it.” Marisa Butler, the coordinator of operations and development at the coalition, credited the UFT with helping the drive reach a record number of donations this year. The number has increased every year, she said, but this year more than 5,000 backpacks were donated, almost 2,000 more than were donated last year. “Every year the UFT has provided crucial support to the drive,” she said. “It really helps us out. We love working with the UFT very, very much.”

Reading garden opens at PS 254, Queens

It was truly a labor of love and collaboration that brought the King’s Court landscaped and mural-decorated reading garden — named in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. — into being at PS 254 in Richmond Hill.

Chapter leader training

More than 200 chapter leaders gathered in Rye, New York on the weekend of Sept. 28-29 for in-depth training on everything from teacher evaluation to school safety. It was the first of three intensive, two-day training sessions this school year for new chapter leaders and chapter leaders who have not received training in the past 10 years.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future

In lieu of that Powerball Jackpot

Next week is National Save for Retirement Week. What better time to review the wonderful supplementary retirement savings plan available to members of the Teachers’ Retirement System? This is the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) program, which since it began in February 1970 has become one of the most valuable and popular benefits that the UFT has achieved for its members.


President's Perspective

Why we need a moratorium

Our students and members should not be harmed by the botched implementation of the Common Core. That is what our call for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences is all about.


Stay true to your profession

I’m not against assessments, but we can’t let our efforts targeted toward a test get in the way of igniting that spark of learning in our students. The teachers I meet are staying true to their mission and bringing education to life for their students by adapting the new demands to what they know works.


DOE sabotaged schools

Test, yes. High-stakes consequences for students, teachers and schools? Not yet.That is the gist of the position carved out by the UFT Delegate Assembly in their resolution at the Oct. 9 meeting calling for a moratorium in New York State and New York City on attaching high stakes to the state’s new Common Core tests.The move for a moratorium amounts to a request for a pause.


Class-size conundrum

Isn’t it amazing how they made the curriculum harder and then increased class size?

Lower class-size limits needed

My school had to excess four teachers last year because we were “underenrolled.” I went from 28-30 kids per class to 30-34 kids per class in a middle school.

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Online teacher communities

There are many online teacher communities that can assist educators looking for lessons, the latest news in our fields or just a supportive ear.

Research shows

Holding back students hurts classmates

For years, researchers and educators have been debating the pros and cons of grade retention policies with respect to how holding back a student affects that student’s learning, behavior and motivation. New research in the American Journal of Education examines these policies from a new perspective: how holding back a student affects the student’s classmates. New research finds that having students in a class who have repeated a grade can lower the standardized test scores of the rest of the students.

Teacher to Teacher

Helping students with learning disabilities

You didn’t cause it, but one of the students sitting in front of you this year with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have already given up on learning.

Building Your Career

New Teachers

Time to think about your retirement

Although designating your financial beneficiaries isn’t as exciting as designating your next big unit of study, enrolling in the Teachers’ Retirement System is an important part of launching your teaching career.

New Teachers

Digital footprints

My computer classroom is decorated to educate and create an exciting learning environment.

Retired Teachers News

Retirees step up again!

We mustn’t let it go to our heads but once again retirees have been singled out for their importance to the UFT.

In the blitz of stories reporting on and analyzing the campaigns and the outcome of the recent primary, one publication — Gotham Schools — cited us as “the union’s strong cadre of retired teachers in particular, known as the ‘daytime union’ because they can step up when active members are at work.” And step up we did.

Once again we staffed phones, leafleted and helped in door-to-door grassroots campaigning in targeted neighborhoods. We were on those phones starting in July helping the union twice reach every UFT member who lives in the city and is a registered Democrat.

And, while we didn’t prevail in the mayoral primary, 48 of the 54 UFT-endorsed candidates did score victories on Sept. 10.