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Team High Schools Newsletter November 2013

Greetings to all our high school members. We know that in addition to the daily challenges we face in educating our high school students, we have the added pressure and anxiety this year from navigating the new evaluation system and incorporating Common Core Learning Standards. It is vital that we work together as a union to address concerns, monitor trends, and support one another in the invaluable work taking place in every New York City high school.

One goal of this newsletter is to provide information to support the work we do collectively for the betterment of our students, schools and profession.

Contact us directly via the Team High School hotline at 212-598-9217 or by email at with any questions, concerns and requests. Please also share your Team High School newsletter with colleagues as we work together to organize our members and empower our schools.  

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

In solidarity,

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

UFT files 17 union-initiated grievances on evaluation

Based on information provided by UFT members across the city about how the evaluation system is being implemented, the UFT has filed 17 union-initiated grievances against the Department of Education.

"The union is working at every level — from conversations at schools to discussions with the DOE, the chancellor and lawmakers in Albany — to ensure that educators get an evaluation system which is fair and which helps teachers to further their professional development," said Janella Hinds, vice president of academic high schools for the UFT.

Here are the issues addressed in the grievances and the union’s position on how the DOE violated the state Commissioner’s Order that established the evaluation system:

Outside evidence: The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by allowing evidence unrelated to an observation or an artifact submitted by a teacher to be used as part of a teacher’s rating (e.g. letters to file). 

Pictures of lesson plans and other artifacts: The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by allowing principals to take pictures of lesson plans and other documents in class and use them as artifacts and/or “evidence.”

Multiple observers:The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by allowing more than one evaluator to observe a class at once.

Goal-setting:The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by allowing principals to mandate that teachers bring written goals to an initial planning conference.

Measures of Student Learning (MOSL):The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by: 1. excluding the use of performance assessments in local schoolwide measures; 2. limiting the use of third- party assessments in local measures; 3. allowing the principal to determine the target for local schoolwide measures; 4. prohibiting the school committee from selecting more than two measures for a grade and subject; 5. limiting the types of  subgroups allowable in local measures to the lowest third; 6. allowing principals to choose the baseline to be administered when there are options; 7. overriding some local mandates when the principal opts to default; and 8. empowering principals to make the decision about what classes are included in a teacher’s local measure when they teach more than one class of students.

50 percent rule:The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by improperly allowing principals to require SLOs for more classes than necessary to meet the requirements of the State Education Department’s “50% Rule.”

Semi-annualized schools:The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by treating semi-annualized classes as full-year courses (i.e., the DOE treats students that a teacher has in either the fall or the spring semester as being taught by the teacher for purposes of student-teacher lineage and MOSL).

District 79, ALCs, and schools’ transient student populations: The DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by requiring District 79 schools to use schoolwide measures.  Additionally, the DOE violated the Commissioner’s Order by refusing to treat District 79 schools in the same manner as the ALCs.

Improper use of three hours: The DOE violated an agreement with the UFT over when and for how long teachers are given time to grade baseline assessments and for professional development.

Panel for Educational Policy

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) convened twice in October, on the 15th and the 30th, to vote on 47 proposals for significant changes in school utilization. Parents, students, community leaders and elected officials offered near-unanimous testimony against the proposed co-locations and closures. UFT Secretary Emil Pietromonaco, Vice President of Academic High Schools Janella Hinds and numerous other UFT members testified about the disastrous effects that school closures and co-locations have had on the city’s school system.

Many UFT chapters also responded to the proposals with organized protests at community hearings, rallies and press conferences. 

Newly elected Public Advocate Letitia James echoed the sentiments in her comments at the hearing, declaring that after the damage done to public schools under Mayor Bloomberg, a new administration would signal a renewed commitment to assisting, not closing, schools and to ensuring that all students receive a quality education.

President Obama visits Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech)

Long gone are the days when career and technical education (CTE) was confined to ‘shop’ classes. CTE schools now have the responsibility of helping students gain skills for a host of careers — from robotics and aeronautics to culinary arts and engineering. In recognition of the growing importance of CTE, President Obama visited P-Tech, a career and technical high school in Brooklyn, on Oct. 31.

P-Tech follows a new school model in which students attend for six years, from 9th grade through the second year of college. Upon completion, they graduate with a Regents’ diploma, a technical endorsement in their chosen field from the NYSED, an associates’ degree from CUNY and work experience. P-Tech students are also given priority consideration for job openings with IBM, the school's industry partner.

Another acknowledgement of the importance of CTE in the 21st century came with the UFT and the AFT’s Albert Shanker Institute co-hosting a career and technical education conference on Oct. 11 and 12. The theme was, “Fulfilling the Promise of Quality Education for All: 21st Century Career Technical Education.” Three stated purposes of the conference were to: create and sustain more high-quality CTE programs; align existing CTE programs with the new Common Core Learning Standards; and develop new economic opportunities for our students through CTE programming.

Celebrating the education profession at Teacher Union Day

More than a thousand UFT members and guests gathered together on
Nov. 5 for the annual Teacher Union Day. Numerous awards were given to recognize the work of UFT members in advocating for our schools, students, members and profession.

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, now Mayor-elect, made a surprise visit and in his speech said, “Our teachers are today’s heroes. And we are going to support them and we’re going to uplift them and with them together we will build the best school system in the country that will provide for the brightest future.”

Awards given at the event to high school members include:

UFT School Partnership Awards

  • Johnny Veloz International School for Liberal Arts (ISLA)
    As chapter leader at ISLA in the Bronx, Johnny Veloz works diligently with his principal, Francine Cruz, to ensure that his school and membership form a tight community. "Teachers need to be appreciated and supported to help students achieve their highest level of success,” Veloz says. He and Cruz worked as a team to ensure that ISLA became a part of the Community Learning Schools initiative, which will help bring healthcare and other services to ISLA students and community members.
  • Rob KarpCommunity Health Academy of the Heights in Manhattan
    Karp, in his role as chapter leader, has worked closely with principal Mark House to create a warm, cooperative and successful school community. Recognizing the need for educators to take risks and speak openly with administrators and colleagues, Karp worked hard to help create an environment free of fear. In that secure environment, "the amazing work teachers do every day can shine through."
  • Vivian Nobile-EspositiThomas Edison Career & Technical Education High School in Queens
    Anyone who watches Chapter Leader Ms. Nobile-Espositi and Principal Ojeda interact knows that there is a deep foundation of respect and even love. One reason for this is that Ms. Nobile-Espositi was a teacher of Mr. Ojeda's in high school. They are all working together and ensuring shared decision-making among all members in a Career and Technical Education High School that features courses of study from engineering and robotics to information technology.


High School Trachenberg Award recipients with Vice Presidents Janella Hinds and Sterling Roberson at Teacher Union Day.

Ely Trachtenberg Awards

Every year, the UFT recognizes outstanding chapters. To the schools that have demonstrated solidarity through their chapter activity, we present an award named after Ely Trachtenberg, a strong believer that the union must be built, nurtured and developed at each individual school.

  • Brooklyn Global Studies HS – Clare Daley
  • William Maxwell CTE HS – Jeffrey Bernstein
  • New Utrecht HS – Catena Daskalakis
  • Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School – Dana Lawit
  • Edward R Murrow HS – James Duncan
  • Bayside HS – Anthony LaVecchio
  • Hillcrest HS – Marilyn Beckford
  • New Dorp HS – Shawn Ramos
  • Brooklyn College Academy – Jason Goldberg

DOE overwhelmed struggling schools with high-needs kids, report shows

The Department of Education systematically overloaded struggling high schools with high-needs “over-the-counter” students who had not participated in the high school choice process, “accelerating a downward spiral toward closure,” a new report finds.

The report issued in October by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University covered the years 2008 through 2011. It found that in every year the DOE disproportionately assigned late-enrolling students — including many new immigrants, special-needs students, and students with histories of problematic behavior — to high schools that already had high concentrations of low-performing students, English language learners and dropouts. Read more.

Albert Shanker Scholarship Fund

Each year, the United Federation of Teachers proudly awards nearly $1 million in undergraduate and graduate scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible students from New York City public schools. Encourage high school students and members to apply. The deadline is Jan. 31, 2014.

Peer Intervention Program

The Peer Intervention Program (PIP) is celebrating its 25th year and was started by Sandy Feldman to ensure tenured teachers are supported and encouraged to continually improve their practice. The program offers peer assistance to tenured educators focusing on improving pedagogy. The service may be used for tenured teachers who have been U-rated once or who have never been U-rated. During the first three month period while PIP participants are working with their intervenors, no observations or evaluations are to be conducted so they are able to concentrate on pedagogical improvement. For more information or to apply for assistance online, visit the PIP webpage on the UFT website or feel free to contact PIP at 212-844-0600.

Got Consultation?

Call the Team High School hotline (212-598-9217) to get advice, ask questions or share concerns about your school’s consultation committee. Let's work together to make the most of one of the most important tools at our disposal for effective self-governance. From sharing ideas on how best to formulate a consultation agenda, taking minutes, honing strategy or engaging in difficult conversations, your union is there to help you.

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:

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 for sharing with members information pertinent to all 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:

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

  • Dec. 18 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • Jan. 22 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • Feb. 26 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • March 26 at the UFT Brooklyn Borough Office
  • April 30 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • May 21 the UFT Staten Island Borough Office
  • June 18 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway

UFT CTE high school meetings with Sterling Roberson – All meetings are on Thursday at 4 p.m.

  • Dec. 19 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
  • 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