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Welcome to the new school year

Welcome to the 2017–18 school year. Many of you had the summer to do exciting activities or spent time pursuing a new language, catching up on books and movies or seeing family or friends. Or you did a little bit of each! However you spent your vacation, I hope it was productive and fulfilling.

I have a few things to tell you about, items that have been under discussion or that we’ve been working on during the summer.

  1. Making professional development easier for paras: We understand the hardship paras face fulfilling requirements for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education credits. So this fall, we are working hard to ensure professional development for paras. One of the union's newest developments is the creation of LearnUFT, which offers affordable professional development to union members. The UFT will continue to add more options for LearnUFT courses and I will update you on PD opportunities as they become available.
  2. Chapter updates and improved communication: Communication is key for our chapter, and I want to continue improving my communication with you. To that end, I will send you regular chapter updates to keep you abreast of current issues we face. This year, I will also send text messages about chapter meetings and news, so I encourage you to sign up for UFT text messages.
  3. Save the date: This year's Paraprofessional Festival and Luncheon will be on March 11, 2018, at the New York Hilton. The luncheon is one of the highlights of our year and allows us to celebrate the work of outstanding paraprofessionals.
  4. Career advancement and other opportunities: I want to keep you updated about opportunities for advancement, including news about the Lead Teacher Assistant position and the Leap-to-Teacher program. Last year, we welcomed our first cohort of about 50 LTAs, and they were very successful. I am proud of the work they are doing to lift up our chapter. In particular, I'd like to highlight the work of Melissa Calderon of the Archer Elementary School in the Bronx. She was featured in a recent article in the New York Teacher.

    Read her story in the New York Teacher »

I know you’re embarking on an exciting year with your students and colleagues but we also have a lot of work to do as unionists. New Yorkers go to the polls on Nov. 7 to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. It is vital that we vote NO on this issue. Anti-union forces are committed to destroying our pensions as well as our right to organize and collectively bargain. Tell your family and friends to join you at the polls and vote NO!

Read more about why we must vote down a constitutional convention »

Watch this video about the dangers of a convention »

Public employee unions are facing an enormous challenge this year: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Janus v. AFSCME court case that seeks to debilitate unions by declaring fair-share or agency fees unconstitutional. These fees cover the costs a union incurs representing and providing services for people who do not choose to belong to a union.

As we brace for this decision, we need every single one of you to remind your colleagues about the benefits of belonging to a union: a defined-benefit pension, employer-paid health insurance, due process rights, tenure, a grievance process, and a voice in how schools are run. Unions, through our voluntary donations to COPE, also provide us a place at the table in Albany as well as at the City Council.

Help us keep our union the strong force it’s been for more than 50 years! Have a great year and keep in touch.


Shelvy Young-Abrams
Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader