Skip to main content
Full Menu

New York TeacherFebruary 6, 2020

Volume LXI , Issue 4

Latest News

Blue hexagon with symbol of head and light bulb
News Stories

UFT functional chapters

The DOE employs many types of educators and professionals who work with New York City public school students in a variety of ways, from providing guidance to high school seniors to offering physical and occupational therapy to special needs children. They are organized into what the UFT calls functional chapters because what unites the members in each group is their function.

AFT holds forum
News Stories

AFT holds presidential forum

Seven leading Democratic candidates for president vied to show their support for public education and public school educators in a forum on Dec. 14 in Pittsburgh.

School Secretaries waiting for their meeting to start
News Stories

UFT working to get curriculum for all

UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 15 that the union is working to ensure that all New York City schools have curriculum aligned to the state’s Next Generation Learning Standards for math and English language arts.

Mulgrew stands among a crowd of women wearing red shirts
National News

Florida teachers march for better pay and support

Thousands of Florida teachers did not report to work on Jan. 13 in order to march in Tallahassee to protest decades of systematic attacks on public education, despite threats by the state education department against them and their union.

Kids in classroom, some wearing uniform
National News

SCOTUS considers public aid to religious schools

The U.S. Supreme Court will be ruling on a high-profile case that could narrow the separation between church and state and open the door to more public aid for religious schools. 

Feature Stories

Aamir Griffin

Remembering Aamir

Teachers described Aamir Griffin as a “nice, quiet kid” who worked hard, loved playing basketball and dreamed of making it his career. “Making my team was a big deal for him,” said Kyrk Peponakis, the junior varsity basketball coach at Benjamin N. Cardozo HS in Bayside, Queens.

Aamir, a 14-year-old freshman, was doing what he loved most — practicing on a court near his home in Jamaica — when he was killed by a stray bullet in October.

To celebrate Aamir’s life and to support his family, Peponakis organized the Aamir Griffin Memorial and Basketball Extravaganza, inviting 10 schools to join Cardozo on Dec. 7 for an all-day tournament. Every coach he called told Peponakis “We’re in,” and the Public Schools Athletic League provided referees at no cost.

The event, said Peponakis, honored the young student in a way “he would really want to be remembered.”

Not business as usual 108 O9A9002

Not business as usual

It may be a virtual enterprise, but the students behind Bake-ology at Susan Wagner HS on Staten Island definitely mean business.

One of the cameramen zooms in for his shot.

Learning through a different lens

Educators at Manhattan’s HS for Environmental Studies have found a new way to infuse environmental issues in the curriculum: through the lens of a TV camera.

Member Spotlight

Zully Brons-Baily
What I Do

Zully Brons-Bailey, School nurse

For nearly two decades, Zully Brons-Bailey worked simultaneously as a school nurse and a hospital nurse in the Bronx. Now serving 640 students in grades pre-K through 8 at the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, she tackles everything from routine care to medical crises.

Emily Blatt
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to: Emily Blatt, University Neighborhood HS, Manhattan

Emily Blatt made increasing contributions to the Committee on Political Education (COPE), the UFT’s political action arm, her first priority when she became chapter leader at University Neighborhood HS in Manhattan in September 2018.

Around the UFT

A student addresses his peers

'Tolerance is not enough'

Speak Truth to Power, a collaboration between Discovery Education and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights supported by the union, illuminates students’ and teachers’ roles in fighting human rights abuses and offers educational experiences and online tools to help them. 

City Council Member Donovan Richards
News Stories

Richards endorsed for Queens borough president

The delegates voted on Jan. 15 to endorse City Council Member Donovan Richards for Queens borough president in the special election on March 24.

Stand Up to Hate march 130 7699

Stand Up to Hate march

In a show of solidarity with New York’s Jewish community, a strong contingent of UFT members joined tens of thousands of other Stand Up to Hate marchers who gathered in Foley Square in lower Manhattan on Jan. 5 for the march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Clinicians Appreciation Day 124 03A0335

Clinicians Appreciation Day

Ketisha Peters, a social worker at Thomas Jefferson HS in East New York, Brooklyn, plans to start an LGBTQ alliance in her school.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew standing at podium with screen behind him
News Stories

Online community to assist chapter leaders

Chapter leaders across the city now have access to a new online community that gives them a place to share ideas with other chapter leaders in their district, find answers to their questions and collect data the union can use to improve education and working conditions.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Your prescription drug plan

All eligible in-service UFT members and their dependents have prescription drug coverage through the UFT Welfare Fund. There are no waiting periods for this coverage. Learn more about this valuable benefit.

Know Your Rights

Lesson plans

Since 1990, Article 8 of the DOE-UFT teachers’ contract has affirmed that the organization, format, notation and other physical aspects of lesson plans are all up to the teacher.

You Should Know

For Your Information

UFT members can deduct union dues from state taxes

Thanks to UFT lobbying, employees can deduct the cost of their union dues from their state income taxes, although they can no longer deduct that expense on their federal tax returns.

Q&A on the Issues

Testing and promotion

With testing season fast approaching, it’s a good time to review the Department of Education’s current policies regarding testing accommodations, alternate assessments and modified promotion criteria for students with disabilities. 

Secure Your Future

Prior service worth money in your future

Were you employed by New York City or New York State before joining the Teachers' Retirement System or the Board of Education Retirement System?

Your Well-being

Weathering the storm

Supporting someone with mental health challenges is complex. Adding a layer of drug and alcohol addiction makes it all the more complicated.


President's Perspective

Why the U.S. Census matters

We have a major challenge ahead of us this spring: Making sure every New Yorker is counted in this year’s U.S. Census.


Keys to successful collective bargaining

When the UFT negotiated its 2018 contract with the city Department of Education, it followed the strategy used by the Federation of Nurses/UFT, which I lead, because of our past success at the bargaining table.The workforce can have a voice, not only in hospitals or schools, but in contract negotiations as well.


A learning atmosphere

Healthy and positive relationships among students and between teachers is an essential component of improved academic performance. When students feel positive and optimistic about themselves and how they relate to others, better academic performance follows.


Election 2020 endorsements

Educators and our unions must be at the forefront of struggles for democracy and social justice. We are therefore disappointed that the proposal to discuss a resolution for a democratic process to choose our union’s 2020 presidential endorsement was voted down at the December Delegate Assembly.


Inspiring words

I cheered when I read “Avoiding flying dictionaries” [New Teacher Diaries, Dec. 12]. How encouraging to learn there is such a wise and sensitive English as a new language teacher in New York City! The strategies the teacher employs to increase students’ understanding of words will go far in increasing their overall success in school and in life. ENL teachers, and all teachers of English, also should inspire their students by reading aloud poetry and excerpts from fictional works that are appropriate for their students’ age and capabilities.


Murphy’s law is flawed

Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy [“Two different worlds,” Dec. 12] says, “people look at the same things differently” because “tastes vary.” He then offers a few examples from the arts to illustrate the trivial point. Why, then, did he write this article?


Fund our Future

New York State continues to shortchange its students in high-needs schools. There’s no other way to read Gov. Cuomo’s Jan. 21 preliminary budget, which proposes an increase in Foundation Aid that falls far short of the $2.1 billion that the UFT, New York State United Teachers and other education advocates are calling for.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve

How mindfulness ‘rewires the brain’

If you've ever been in a visible state of distress, chances are good someone has told you to take a deep breath. Why? Because breathing deeply activates a set of neurons in the brain that relaxes your body.

Linking to Learning

Using screencasts in the classroom

You may be familiar with screencasts as video tutorials on YouTube that describe how to use a piece of technology, but they’ve also caught on in the classroom.

Teacher to Teacher

Building discussion in your math classroom

When I became a middle school math teacher 12 years ago, one of the first things I noticed was how chatty students can be. So I was surprised when, after I asked my students to discuss a math problem, strategy or solution with their group members, the room would suddenly get quieter.

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom

A flexible seating environment for high school students

"Last year, I decided I wanted to create a classroom space that was as unique as my students, a place where they would feel comfortable and want to come to class (that’s half the battle in high school, after all!). With my students’ wants and needs in mind, I created a flexible seating environment..."

Inside My Classroom

A flexible seating environment for high school students

"Last year, I decided I wanted to create a classroom space that was as unique as my students, a place where they would feel comfortable and want to come to class (that’s half the battle in high school, after all!). With my students’ wants and needs in mind, I created a flexible seating environment..."

New Teacher Articles

Preparing for your tenure decision

Gaining tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. Having tenure means you can’t be terminated without due process and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action that could lead to termination.

New Teacher Profiles

Catering to her students

Victoria Love was the executive pastry chef at The Water Club, a world-renowned Manhattan restaurant. Now, she bakes delicacies like maple apple pandowdy and tropical coconut cheesecake with her special needs students at Manhattan School for Career Development.

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.

WESTCHESTER/ROCKLAND/PUTNAM: WS 808 Intro to Meditation. Price: $6. WS 812 Spring Crafts. Time: 10 a.m.–noon. WS 814 Alfred Hitchcock Movies. Price: $6.

Retired couple with grandkids

Post-retirement earnings limit increases

If you work for a public employer after retirement, there is a limit to how much you can earn during the calendar year. That amount increased to $35,000 for 2020, up from $30,000 last year, due to legislation signed in December.

Mature woman laying on the floor looking at her laptop

Age to start minimum distributions is now 72

The age at which required minimum distributions 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.