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Team High Schools Newsletter December 2013

We want to take this opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary work that all of you have done on behalf of students and our professions this year. Together we weathered failed negotiations with a mayor who was bent on co-locating schools rather than supporting them, demonizing educators instead of valuing them, and pushing unnecessary paperwork in place of supporting real teaching and learning in our schools.

This fall has brought the added challenge of navigating a teacher evaluation system imposed by the State Education Commissioner, alongside the continued rollout of the Common Core Learning Standards and the Danielson Framework.

We are accustomed to working toward the continual improvement of our schools and profession under less than ideal circumstances. We approach this new year with cautious optimism and anticipate the negotiation of a new teacher evaluation system that develops, not punishes, educators. We will continue to work toward the continual betterment of our schools, profession and working conditions. We take great pride in knowing that it is we educators who ensure the academic achievement of our students, the social well-being of our school communities and the professional growth of our colleagues. As UFT members, we look forward to building upon our union’s solidarity to advocate for one another and our chosen profession.

We are eager to work with you in your schools and in the UFT offices to perform the hard task of improving New York City’s high schools. Please contact the Team High School hotline at 212-598-9217, email us at teamhs@uft.org, or contact your chapter leader, district representative, or borough office to arrange a visit to your school. We are here for you, so please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or inquiries on ways to become more active in your union.

On behalf of Team High School, we wish you and yours a happy new year. Enjoy every minute of the winter break!

In solidarity,

Janella Hinds, Vice President of Academic High Schools
Sterling Roberson, Vice President of Career and Technical High Schools


Utilize the Member Assistance Program (MAP)

Are you feeling stressed, anxious or depressed? Are you experiencing hardship or just need someone to talk to? 

All educators face personal and professional challenges. The UFT is dedicated to ensuring that you don’t have to manage difficult times on your own. 

The UFT Member Assistance Program (MAP) has trained professional counselors who can guide you through the problems that can jeopardize your health and job performance. The services are confidential, professional and supportive.

MAP provides short-term counseling to in-service UFT members by professionally trained mental health staff. If necessary, MAP can also make referrals to outside resources. Contact MAP today to learn more about short-term individual counseling, peer support groups for bereavement and assistance for victims of domestic violence. MAP can offer referrals to community support groups, assistance for victims of domestic abuse, substance abuse counseling, mental health services and bereavement support in addition to legal and financial counseling services.

Contact MAP at 212-701-9620 or at mapinfo@uft.org with questions, concerns or to discuss receiving individual or group counseling. MAP’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Summer hours are 9 a.m.–5:15 p.m.


Victim Support Program available to assist your school in times of tragedy

If a tragedy or other traumatic event strikes your school community, the UFT’s Victim Support Program is available to offer on-site counseling to all school staff, regardless of union affiliation. To arrange a VSP counseling visit to your school, you may contact your district representative, who will get in touch with Enrique DeUrquiza, VSP Clinical Coordinator. Be prepared to provide your contact information, school name, borough and address and a brief description of what occurred and the type of support you feel may be needed. 


UFT Co-sponsors the Big Apple Classic

The UFT co-sponsored the 2013 Big Apple Classic Weekend at the New York Times and Barclays Center on Sunday, Dec. 15. The Big Apple Classic was launched seven years ago as New York's first-ever basketball competition featuring historically black colleges and universities. It has since become a city tradition, with leading institutions partnering to offer educational programming and sports in one weekend.

On Saturday, career and technical education high school students from across the city joined Vice President Sterling Roberson and industry leaders for a dynamic student leadership summit at the New York Times building that was focused on education in science, technology, engineering, math, entrepreneurship and design (STEM-ED) and career and technical education (CTE). Students were able to engage with assorted industry leaders, including Daryl Bloodsaw, the advertising director for the New York Times; Maurice Coleman, the senior vice president of global commercial banking at  Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Dean Nada Anid, the dean of the School of Engineering and Computing Science at New York Institute of Technology; C. Lamont Smith, the president and chief executive officer of All Pro Sports & Entertainment; and Wendy Lewis, the senior vice president of diversity and strategic alliances for Major League Baseball.

Contact Sterling Roberson at sroberson@uft.org with questions or concerns about Career and Technical Education.


Looking for a student-centered activity to teach human rights and documentary film making?

The Speak Truth to Power student video contest, co-sponsored by the AFT, challenges middle and high school students to create short films about a human rights violation and the modern-day heroes fighting to stop it. The winning film in the most recent contest will be screened at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Speak Truth to Power is a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Center for Justice and Human Rights and its website has ready-to-use lesson plans and resources aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards. The RFK Center is also happy to arrange a representative to personally visit your class to introduce human rights curricula and the video contest to your school or students. Contact the Team High School hotline at 212-598-9217 with any questions or assistance.


Common Core Learning Standards and the New Regents

As educators, we believe that students should be held to high standards that will support successful outcomes in the college and careers of their choice. Still, we know that it is not the standards alone that assist us in getting students to reach their full potential. We need adequate time, planning, resources and training that allow us to push our students to their best. Like every education initiative, it is largely left to educators to ensure that the CCLS bring about a positive change. 

This year, students in New York City high schools will have the opportunity to take the ELA and Math Regents exams aligned to the CCLS. The graphs which we link to below show the comprehensive timelines in which Common Core ELA and Math exams will be given in our schools.  

There are two important facts to note. First, any student who entered high school prior to the 2013-14 school year will be eligible to take and graduate with the “old” Regents exams until their last administration. Second, while 9th-graders are scheduled to take the Common Core Algebra test in June 2014, they will also take the “old” Integrated Algebra exam this June. A passing grade on either can be used to satisfy graduation requirements.

So, while we can anticipate changes to our classrooms and schools as the new Common Core Regents exams get phased in, the expectations for students in spring 2014 remain largely unchanged. For more information about Common Core and the Regents Exams visit engageny.org.

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Adieu Bloomberg!

As this is the last Team High School newsletter under the ‘Education’ Mayor, we thought fitting to quote this outgoing mayor so that we may give thanks for the present.

"If I had the ability to just design the system and say 'ex cathedra this is what we’re going to do,' you would cut the number of teachers in half and weed out all the bad ones," Bloomberg said, according to CBS. "And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students," he added.  

Luckily, we know that such a comment could only come from someone who thought it wise to appoint a chancellor with no experience in education to lead the largest school system in the United States. We welcome the city’s incoming new leaders who realize that the future well-being and success of this city and nation begin with the education and development of our youth and that the professional educators who take up this noble charge deserve respect and praise.


Questions or Concerns regarding guidance?

All UFT guidance counselors as well as other members with questions or concerns regarding guidance counselors should contact Rosemarie Thompson, leader of the UFT guidance counselors’ chapter, at rthompson@uft.org or at 212-598-7776. You may also find more information on guidance issues on the guidance counselors chapter page.


Got Consultation?!

Consultation meetings are one of the best vehicles for ensuring evaluation is being implemented well at the school level in addition to ensuring that educators are at the heart of school decision-making, such as on the allocation of school resources, special education concerns, contractual matters and the selection and function of professional activities (C6).

Holding successful consultation meetings (also known as consultative council or executive board) is not easy, however. Please contact the Team High School hotline at 212-598-9217 or teamhs@uft.org with questions or to discuss creating an agenda, developing strategies for effective communication and holding effective meetings, taking meeting minutes and assisting with communication to the other UFT members in your building.

The UFT will also provide individual training and workshops on budget consultation, the new evaluation system and other contractual matters including: formulating and conducting school-based options (SBOs); ensuring that professional activities (C6) are effective and implemented correctly; scheduling; per-session pay issues; and other matters.


Many hands make light work!

As you know, a lot of different things go into making a school’s culture positive. It is important to institute UFT committees to address issues and advance initiatives to help you in your advocacy to create a productive and positive climate at your school.

Every UFT member needs to be active at the school level, and committees are a great way to do that as well as to build solidarity among school staff.

Contact the team high school hotline or union representatives at your school about how to set up and run the committees, communicate committee work to other members and ensure that each committee is contributing effectively and positively to your school community.

  • Consultation: Meets monthly with the principal, by agreement, to discuss budget allocations and the decisions and concerns which most affect your school community. 
  • Newsletter: A great vehicle for educating your school community on issues and decisions that affect your school. 
  • Election: This committee conducts elections for chapter leader, delegates and paraprofessional representatives. It also plays a crucial role in votes on School-Based Options.
  • Sunshine: Use this committee to ensure your chapter has fun and organizes birthday parties, breakfasts and other events to let the sun shine!
  • Helping Hand: This committee collects voluntary contributions from UFT members once or twice a year to be used in the unfortunate event that a member suffers a loss or illness. 
  • Tenure: This committee will work with the untenured UFT members to ensure all new educators and untenured teachers have the support and assistance necessary in navigating this new process.
  • Programming: The foundation to any well-run high school is effective programming. This committee will work with the school’s programmer and administration to ensure that staffing, schedules and time are best arranged to serve our students and achieve the goals of your school. 
  • Technical Assistance: Use this committee to ensure all UFT members are comfortable using technology to support their work educating students.
  • Benefits: Use this committee to educate staff on earned benefits such as medical, dental, vision and the Teachers' Retirement System's pension program and Tax-Deferred Annuity Program.

January Regents scoring

Thanks in great part to UFT members who reported issues with the electronic distributive scoring fiasco last spring, there will not be electronic distributive scoring for the grading of the January 2014 Regents exams. There will, however, be non-electronic distributive scoring for which UFT members will leave their home school to score Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Comprehensive English, Geometry, Global History, or Living Environment Regents exams. Talk to your administration about any questions or concerns you may have regarding the January Regents. Please contact the UFT with any questions or concerns you have with the scoring procedures.


High School questions or concerns?

Call the UFT Team High School hotline with any and all questions or concerns you have at the high school level or request that Janella Hinds visit your school to discuss evaluation or to meet with your chapter to discuss any issues impacting your school community.

Team High School hotline: 212-598-9217

Team High School email: teamhighschool@uft.org

Borough Offices:

  • Bronx: 718-379-6200
  • Brooklyn: 718-852-4900
  • Manhattan: 212-598-6800
  • Queens: 718-275-4400
  • Staten Island: 718-605-1400

UFT Team High School Citywide Meetings

See below the dates and locations of this year’s meetings of the academic high school and career and technical high school committees. These meetings are designed to help members get information pertinent to our high schools. They are also a great opportunity to connect, converse and even debate with colleagues the myriad issues affecting our schools and students.  Please attend and invite other members from your schools. Food and refreshments are always provided. RSVP to the Team High School hotline: 212-598-9217 or Team High School email: teamhighschool@uft.org

UFT academic high school meetings with Janella Hinds — All meetings are on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

  • Jan. 22 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • Feb. 26 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • March 26 at the UFT Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St.
  • April 30 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • May 21 at the UFT Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Rd.
  • June 18 52 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway

UFT CTE high school meetings with Sterling Roberson — All meetings are at 4 p.m.

  • Jan. 23 at UFT headquarters at 50 Broadway
  • Feb. 6 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • March 27 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • April 24 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • May 22 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • June 19 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway

Illustrations of unionism!

For more than half a century, the UFT has fought for and won important rights such as a duty-free lunch, preparation periods, and the right to due process before termination, among many others.

We have been fortunate to be the largest and only local union of educators in the country to have been spared layoffs in recent years. But it is our responsibility to join with our brothers and sisters across the country to show the public how the fate of organized labor is inextricably tied to the success of the nation. 

We must help spread the message that labor unions are essential to guaranteeing professional standards and fair and safe working conditions.

We want to share with you a few videos that help illustrate this message about labor, collective action, unions and our interdependence. They are funny, moving and inspiring. Enjoy.

The union situation »

Work connects us all »

Give a little love to get a little love »

More powerful when we work together »


Not a UFT Member? Join Now!

Make sure you receive the full benefits of being a full-fledged member of the UFT (including being able to run and vote in union elections and to help choose the UFT's leadership team in your school and citywide. Only members can participate in the union's bargaining committee and take part in the contract ratification vote. For information, call the UFT membership department at 212-598-6855 or go to http://www.uft.org/enrollment-info.