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New York TeacherJune 6, 2019

Volume LX , Issue 10
New York Teacher Cover - Jun 6 2019 - 5 years of launching successful careers

Cover Stories

Wayne Lydon, Fare Payment Programs director at the MTA

50 years of launching successful careers

Since 1969, UFT college scholarships have been helping New York City public high school students from low-income families. Many of the winners have gone on to distinguish themselves in amazing careers. Here are six examples.

Gary Davidian, software engineer

1973 UFT scholarship winner Gary Davidian, a graduate of Benjamin Cardozo HS in Queens, used the $1,000 a year he received to help cover room and board at SUNY Buffalo, where he studied computer science.

From there, he embarked on a career as a software engineer that included a stop at Apple, where he was a key contributor in the development of the Power Macintosh. He went on to run his own consulting company and today is semi-retired in Los Altos Hills, California.

“That so many people got to use products that came as a result of my work is very satisfying,” Davidian said.

Jerry Goldstein, space scientist

“The universe is a wonderful place,” said Jerry Goldstein, a space scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, where he helps develop instruments and spacecrafts for NASA.

Middle age woman with caption

UFT fighting to rein in hospital fees

The UFT has mounted a campaign in Albany this spring to pass legislation that would help rein in spiraling health care costs by barring hospitals from charging outrageous fees for emergency care to out-of-network patients.

Students at PS 81in Brooklyn marched through the neighborhood with signs demanding clean drinking water.
Learning Curve

Civics education

For many people, civics is synonymous with social studies. But the UFT's teacher working group on civics education feel strongly that the lessons of civics are applicable in every classroom.

Latest News

A group of UFT members from Districts 18, 21 and 22, including Brooklyn HS rep James Duncan

UFT's candidate wins Council seat

With the UFT’s support, Farah Louis won the special election on May 14 to fill the New York City Council seat left vacated by Jumaane Williams when he became the city’s public advocate. 


California teachers pay for subs during extended leave

Public school teachers in California are forced by state law to pay for their own substitute teachers when they take extended sick leave. 

McDonald’s workers strike for wages and rights

Hundreds of McDonald’s workers walked off the job in 13 cities on May 23 to call for a minimum wage of $15 per hour and expanded rights in their workplace, including protection from sexual harassment. The labor action came the same week as employees in 20 cities filed sexual harassment complaints against the fast food company.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew standing in front of room full of people

UFT lists budget priorities for Council members

As the July 1 deadline to pass the city budget approached, the UFT made a full-court press for city funding for Teacher’s Choice and four other UFT-led education programs: the United Community Schools initiative, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program and the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline. 

Paula Washington, the chapter leader at LaGuardia HS in Manhattan, asks a questi

Health benefits highlight value of UFT membership

Telling the story of why the union matters, Geof Sorkin, the executive director of the UFT Welfare Fund, discussed the “very robust benefit package” that UFT-represented employees have.

Feature Stories

A 3rd-grader repeats a word and writes it on his slate.

Red-letter day at Spanish Spelling Bee

[[nid:112223; styleName:article_x_large_auto]][[nid:112222; float: right; styleName:article_x_medium_auto]]Ten proud “ganadores,” or winners, took their bows at the fourth annual District 3 Spanish Spelling Bee hosted by PS 87 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. All seven dual language schools in the district participated, sending 34 finalists from their own spelling bees to the May 21 competition.

And the challenges were fierce. Consider the longest word, “ininterrumpidamente,” meaning without interruption. That was spelled correctly, while “respeto” tripped up several students because they added a “c” from the English word “respect.”

District 3 followed the rules of the national bee with a “pronouncer,” Ileana Infante from Hunter College, and a panel of judges that included a state Regent, three administrators and a student from nearby MS 247, another dual language school.

“So that competitors would feel a sense of formality and seriousness, we invited a group of MS 247 students to welcome and register the competitors,” said Jacqueline Morison, the dual language bilingual coordinator at PS 87 and the spelling bee’s organizer.

Paraprofessional Antonia Espinosa helps a squirrel adjust her tail before her sc

Music makers, dreamers of dreams

Students at P53K @ Spring Creek Community School in Brooklyn performed “Willy Wonka Jr.” for an audience of 300 on May 8.

Chris Duerr runs a test with his daughter to answer the question, “Does mold gro

Students have teaching down to a science

Students became teachers for a day and led more than 400 parents and guests in 47 hands-on experiments at the fifth annual Science Exploratorium at PS 84 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on May 23.

Member Spotlight

Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine

Showing their pride

“We want to make ourselves known,” said Nancy Acevedo, an occupational therapist at PS 264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Acevedo was one of hundreds of occupational therapists, physical therapists and educators who donned “Union Proud” chapter T-shirts on May 13 for the UFT Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter’s day of solidarity.

The chapter leadership was spurred to organize the day after the city was cited for not providing mandated services to students with disabilities.

“Our members provide a large chunk of those necessary services,” said Thomas Ayrovainen, an occupational therapist at IS 74 in Oakland Gardens, Queens, and the chapter leader of the Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter. “The aim of the day was to galvanize the chapter, show pride in our work and call on the DOE to provide all mandated services to students.”

Therapists clad in the chapter T-shirts posed for group shots with school chapter leaders and other school colleagues. Many members also made signs and bulletin boards declaring their pride.

Desiree Mark
What I Do

What I do: Desiree Mark, teacher’s aide, ADAPT

Desiree Mark has worked for nearly 30 years at the Lawrence Avenue school of ADAPT Community Network, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of NYC, working with children whose medical, cognitive, emotional and/or physical needs require a more restrictive setting than a public school. Since 2003, the UFT has represented ADAPT employees, who now number more than 900 at schools and residences citywide.

Lillian Palladino
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Lillian Palladino, Susan E. Wagner HS on Staten Island

Susan E. Wagner HS Chapter Leader Lillian Palladino credits the union-negotiated process for tackling excessive paperwork for resolving an issue at her Staten Island school and for “unifying staff, revitalizing morale and bridging the gap with administration.”

Around the UFT

Group of people pose for the camera

Nurse Recognition Day

“You have different skills, certification and education, but you all have the ability to stand up in the middle of chaos — no matter how crazy it gets — and say, ‘This person matters,’” Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT and the UFT vice president for non-DOE members, told the nurses attending the union’s sixth annual Nurse Recognition Day on April 30.

Members from PS 106 vie for the award as the best cheering section.

District 11 Scholarship Dinner

A crowd of 600-plus packed Villa Barone Manor in the Bronx on May 8 for the UFT's third annual District 11 Scholarship Dinner, featuring dinner, dancing, awards and 52 raffle baskets.

Students from Art and Design HS in Manhattan draw portraits of members and fello

Students show off skills at fair

From vintage educational memorabilia to cutting-edge drones and 3D printers, the UFT Spring Education Conference’s exhibit hall put the best of New York City’s career and technical education high schools on display.

Katelyn Maldonado (left), a teacher at IS 217 in the Bronx, is impressed by her

Prom boutique

More than 2,000 middle and high schoolers from New York City public schools went to the UFT’s prom boutique on May 10-11 at the union’s Bronx borough office where they picked out dresses, shoes, jewelry and accessories for their proms and graduations – and took them home for free.

“The Lady” is performed by Helaine Bernard (left) as the Statue of Liberty and J

UFT Players’ one-act plays

The UFT Players performed six original one-act plays at UFT headquarters in Manhattan on May 9.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Summer prescription drug plan tips for in-service members

As summer approaches, some of you will be heading out of town or even out of the country. Remember to take care of your maintenance prescription needs before you pack your bags. For emergencies, always carry your Express Scripts prescription ID card.

Know Your Rights

School safety

Under the DOE-UFT contract, every school must have a safety committee and a safety plan created by that safety committee. As part of the 2018 contract, UFT-represented members have a new mechanism to report safety violations and resolve safety issues.

You Should Know

Q&A on the Issues

Protecting yourself from measles

A national measles outbreak, including more than 400 cases in New York City, has generated concern. This Q&A from the New York City Department of Health answers some of the most common questions.

Secure Your Future

Filing for retirement, step by step

It's the time of year when many TRS members are thinking about retirement. If you are considering this major step when the school year ends, here are some things to think about or do.

Your Well-being

Creating schools that welcome LGBTQ kids

There is a lot that educators can do to make the school environment more welcoming for these students — and a more inclusive environment for all students and staff.



Being an informed educator

One of my responsibilities as the UFT vice president for education is to make sure you stay informed about the rollout of New York State’s Next Generation Learning Standards. In 2018, we focused on raising awareness; this year we are focused on building capacity.

President's Perspective

The power of unity

It’s June, and our enemies are coming out of the woodwork with a barrage of misinformation about unions and union membership. There is a lot at stake: Our profession, our public schools and our ability to take care of ourselves and our families.



I gave support to the Denver teachers in their strike: I walked the line and attended the rally at the capitol. Our support was appreciated. 


Charters and unions

Every argument UFT President Michael Mulgrew used to illustrate how charter schools “drain the lifeblood from public schools” was valid and accurate [President’s Perspective, May 2]. That is why I am puzzled by the UFT’s organizing efforts in New York City charter schools.


Student debt

A more equitable solution to college debt would be to ask students to perform some form of national service in exchange for forgiveness of their student loans.


Value of the union

Teaching is a profession that comes from the heart. Teachers should be respected, well-paid and treated fairly. 

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Teacher to Teacher

Inquiry-based learning with young students

Do you want to help your students explore their interests and extend their learning beyond a scripted curriculum? Consider trying inquiry-based investigations in your early childhood classroom.

Building Your Career

New Teachers

Giving voice to the smallest complaints

I am a high school English teacher that has it pretty good. What follows is my attempt to give voice to the smallest, most insignificant complaints imaginable from my first year.

New Teachers

Who my students work hard for

At the beginning of each school year, I ask my students to write about and bring in a photo of a loved one to put on display so they can walk up to that photo in times of struggle and success to remind them who they work hard for.

Retired Teachers News

Teachers want what students deserve

This month’s column is by Leo Casey, the executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute and a former UFT vice president, from remarks he made at a recent Democratic National Committee Labor Council meeting.

— Tom Murphy, RTC chapter leader

When teachers went on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina in the Teacher Spring of 2018, it was not just for themselves — although their pay, pensions and health insurance have been diminishing for the last decade. It was just as much for the students and the communities they serve, so that they might have the schools they deserve.

The strikes were driven first and foremost by government underfunding of public education, which is most intense in “red” states with Republican-dominated governments where funding, already diminished by austerity, has often been redirected into privatization schemes such as vouchers.

In much of the United States, funding of public education now lags well below pre-Great Recession levels: 25 states spend $19 billion less on public K–12 education than they did a decade ago. The chronic austerity that has starved schools and other public services while providing tax cuts to the wealthy and the redirection of education funds into vouchers and charter schools has undercut teacher salaries, health care insurance and pensions. In 38 states, teacher salaries are lower than they were a decade ago, and the gap between teacher salaries and those of comparable professionals has widened to 17%. In many states, teachers struggle to provide the essentials for themselves and their families: 1 in every 5 American teachers has taken on second and third jobs, and significant numbers are relying on public assistance such as food stamps.