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New York TeacherNovember 6, 2014

Volume LVI , Issue 3
NYT cover Nov 11, 2014 - Daring to eperiment

Cover Stories

Success Charter makes insulting, insensitive demands in Harlem

When an Eva Moskowitz Success Academy Charter School moved into a Harlem school building in September, she wanted the front door for the exclusive use of her own students and staff.

“They asked us not to use the front door,” said a still incredulous Griffith Terry, the chapter leader of the Academy for Social Action, one of the four district schools that occupy the building. “They wanted us to go around the block and use the side entrance.”

The outraged teachers flatly refused.

“We’ve worked well with charter schools before, but not this time,” said Terry.

Grievances from the teachers at the four schools came pouring out at an early-morning meeting with UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Sept. 30.

“They don’t want us to walk in their halls,” reported an exasperated Jennifer Grant, a special education teacher at the Academy of Social Action.

PS 152 Chapter Leader Joanne Oliver with colleagues

Making Strides in memory of beloved colleagues

UFT members from MS 80 in the Bronx, who were walking in memory of a teacher who died of breast cancer in June, were among the thousands of UFT members who participated in this year’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk.


Manhattan high school uses PROSE to innovate

Harvest Collegiate HS is using the PROSE provision in the UFT contract to gain more freedom to veer from tradition this year. This year’s plan is to increase teacher leadership positions and conduct a grand experiment in peer evaluation.

Latest News

A tree falls in Brooklyn

Even as Seth Low Intermediate School rebuilds under the leadership of a new principal, the co-location of Eva Moskowitz's expanding Success Academy charter in its building has frustrated educators.

Looking ‘beyond test scores’

Chancellor Fariña announced a new evaluation system for schools that looks "beyond test scores" to take a multi-faceted approach to measuring success.

UFT joins call to place renewed focus on school diversity

New York City Council members, joined by NAACP representatives, advocates, parent leaders and the UFT, launched a campaign to increase school diversity and credit multiple measures of student success at a press conference in the City Hall rotunda on Oct. 22.

UFT takes ad campaign to airwaves, social media

With public schools under attack, the UFT will launch an ad campaign on Oct. 6 to remind New Yorkers of the passion and promise of public education. The 30-second spot, called “Think Big,” will air from Oct. 6 – Oct. 17 on broadcast, cable and social media platforms.

State Senate races key for public education

UFT members called fellow union members in the suburbs and upstate at union phone banks and a day of door-knocking in the Hudson Valley was planned for Nov. 1 as the fight to decide which party controls the state Senate came down to a handful of competitive races, all outside New York City.

Feature Stories

Jelani Cobb
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Jelani Cobb, professor and journalist

Jelani Cobb, a graduate of Jamaica HS in the class of 1987, has constructed a life at the nexus of academia and journalism. You might find him one day discussing the Watts riots of 1965 with his history class at the University of Connecticut, Storrs — and the next day writing about this summer’s fatal police shooting and its aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri, for The New Yorker.

Cobb’s books include “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress” (Bloomsbury, 2010) and “The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic” (NYU Press, 2007). He’s also a savvy user of Twitter, where he weighs in on the news of the day and tweets the links to his journalism. In addition to The New Yorker, he has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio, among other places.

Cobb says his high school experience gave him the confidence to pursue his dreams. “Jamaica HS set me in good stead academically, intellectually and socially,” he says. After Jamaica, he attended Howard University and in 2003 earned his doctorate in American history at Rutgers University. In addition to being an associate professor of history, Cobb is the director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. His newest book, “Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931–1957,” is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.

I was born and raised in Queens, in Springfield Gardens and Hollis. I attended PS 134, IS 192 and IS 238 before attending Jamaica HS. I had good teachers at the elementary and middle schools, but my most memorable experience was in high school. When I graduated from Jamaica HS in 1987, I was one of five friends, only one of whom had college-educated parents. Three of us went on to obtain the Ph.D. It was a very enriching environment.

Teacher Meg O’Dwyer (standing, left) and paraprofessional Jonalyn Reyes (standing, right, back to camera) lead a professional development session for colleagues at P 352 in the Bronx. The session was set in Reyes’ classroom to explain the layout and transitioning between stations.

Bronx District 75 school meeting PD challenge

P 352, a District 75 school in Brooklyn, has carved out time in its schedule for teachers and paraprofessionals to receive professional development that truly addresses their needs.

The students examine purple aster as PS 179 teacher Diane Corrigan (right) looks on.

Sowing the seeds of learning

It’s not often that city kids calmly kneel before flowers and count bees and wasps. But the 21 students in Diane Corrigan’s 1st-grade class at PS 179 in Kensington did just that on a class trip to the Gateway National Recreation Area on Jamaica Bay in Queens on Oct. 9.

Around the UFT

Staten Island street renamed for teacher

Colleagues, family and friends of Simeonette Mapes, a social studies teacher who helped found the School for the Classics in Brooklyn, gathered on Sept. 27 at a Staten Island street corner which was renamed in her honor during an intimate ceremony.

Build a Better School Contest

Students and staff at PS 43 in Far Rockaway celebrated winning the $20,000 grand prize in the citywide Build a Better School Contest during a celebration in the auditorium on Oct. 11.

Celebration of Italian Heritage and Culture Month

UFT Italian American Heritage Committee members celebrated Italian Heritage and Culture Month on Oct. 17 at UFT headquarters with a focus on Italian American sports legends in America.

UFT Bronx Making Strides Zumba fundraiser

UFT members from schools in the Bronx had fun while raising $450 to benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at the third annual Zumba class fundraiser on Oct. 2.

UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

Diabetes has become a major epidemic in the United States, which is why the UFT Welfare Fund chose to hold a workshop on the disease and how to prevent it.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future

Knowledge is power

UFT members who take advantage of our union’s pension services tend to be very knowledgeable about their retirement benefits.


President's Perspective

New CTE graduation path a great victory

No one denies the importance of the Regents exams, but pen-and-paper exams are not the only way to measure our students’ learning, or for them to demonstrate to us their mastery of a body of knowledge.


ASD Nest program offers model for collaboration

Our new contract provides welcome time for professional development, parent engagement and other professional work. Now how best to use it? The ASD Nest program offers a valuable model.


A crucial fight

This is a battle over which party will control the state Senate. The outcome will greatly affect all of our state’s public school educators, students and schools.

Collaboration is key

Public school educators know from both experience and common sense that when school administrators treat teachers as partners rather than adversaries, schools function more smoothly, staff morale is higher and the entire school community benefits.


Charters don’t want all students

I am a pupil accounting secretary. If charter schools are public schools, then why do they send back students to the school I work in who have behavior issues or learning disabilities or language barriers? If charter schools are public schools, why are their books closed to the public?

Bringing back the fun

Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s new evaluation system for schools comes as a relief for those in the trenches. It is about time to put the joy back into the schools for both the teachers and the students. It should be fun, not paranoia.

The class size conundrum

So there are more than 3,500 classes above the contractual limit [New York Teacher, Oct. 2]. What exactly is the legal hurdle to getting more room to create smaller classes? It’s clear that lower student-to-teacher ratios would equate with a higher success rate. So what’s up? Why does it happen so often?

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Choosing a browser

Choosing the right browser is not an easy decision. Here’s an overview of the four most-popular Web browsers so you can examine the pros and cons for yourself.

Research shows

Labor-management partnerships prove fruitful

New research published by the Center for American Progress suggests that union-management collaboration and teacher voice at the school level can have significant positive effects on student learning.

Teacher to Teacher

Using positive reinforcement with early learners

There is something all students get — a universal language everyone understands: positive reinforcement.

Building Your Career

New Teachers

Leadership roles

We want our students to understand that having a job in our classroom goes beyond completing the job.
New Teachers

Tap into support and expertise at your school

Whether you’re a new teacher or just new to your building this year, developing a good working relationship with your colleagues will go a long way toward helping you have a successful year.

Retired Teachers News

The fight against income inequality

Income inequality, income disparity, end of the middle class, the working class, the working poor.

For the first time in our history, there is a strong belief that the next generation will be worse off than ours: Younger people are “nesting” with their parents, and economic dignity and security are in decline. Or in the words of that old Depression song: “There’s nothing surer, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Why and how has it come to this? Government policies or their lack have consequences and create ripple effects everywhere.

A recent New York Times business section article, headlined “Equation Is Simple: Education = Income,” featured a photo of President Franklin Roosevelt signing the GI Bill of Rights 70 years ago that paid college tuition for veterans and tapped into a great resource for building a prosperous American future.

Now, the article notes, “… the United States ranks near the bottom in the share of its working-age citizens who surpass the education attainment of their parents.” Policies that tilt toward the haves and ignore the have-nots shrink rather than increase the great American middle class, upending traditional improvements for the next generation.