Monday, October 15, 2018

The Memorandum Of Understanding

Chalkbeat published the entire Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) contract between the City and the UFT.  Based on the MOU.   Here are the highlights.

  • Raises (2% per year) less than the inflation rate (2.8%).
  • No change in DOE hiring policy that discriminates against veteran teachers
  •  No decrease in class sizes limits
  • Charlotte Danielson still used.
  • ATRs permanently hired will not count on a school budget for the length of the contract.  Then what?
  • Still two or three lists of ATRs.and the Scarlet Letter will remain.
  •  On the first day of school. ATRs will be forced placed in vacancies
  • No "newbies" can be hired once the school year starts.
  • Paras get teacher "due process" and an increase in longevity raises.
  • Chapter Leaders can see a student's OORS report.
  • Expedited grievances pertaining to oversized classes.
  • Less observations for effective or highly effective teachers.
The major "giveback" was health care.  All "newbies" must be enrolled in HIP the first year.

 A searchable version of the MOU can be found Here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Union Leadership Once Again Failed The ATRs.

The Union and the City has negotiated a new contract and once again the union leadership failed the ATRs.  According to what is known, the only change is that schools cannot hire "newbie teachers" once the school year starts instead of October 15th.    This change may allow some ATRs to snag a provisional position for the school year since some teachers may have taken another position in a better school at the last minute.  The result is that  these vacancies will be in the worst schools.

According to South Bronx Schools, the ATR salary will no longer affect a school's budget, if permanently hired for the length of the contract and a special program that will employ ATRs in running a small  learning group for struggling students.  However, I have not seen this identified.  In my opinion these changes on the margin will not reduce or eliminate the ATR issue.

Regardless, the union leadership failed to get the DOE to eliminate the school based Fair Student Funding that incentivizes principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  Moreover, the union failed to get the DOE to change hiring procedures that would require schools to hire from the excessed teacher list in the District before hiring "newbies".  Finally, the union agreed to the DOE's forced placement and useless rotation of ATRs,

We still remain second class citizens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Givebacks "R" Us.

Over the last twenty year our UFT leadership has kept contract negotiations secret from the members and has resulted n contracts that were short on raises and long on "givebacks".  After the UFT leadership negotiated the terrible 2005 contract that resulted in the members giving up time, days, and resulted in the ATR pool.  The giveback laden contract created such a backlash and resulted in the UFT leadership setting up a 300 person negotiating committee to make it seem like member input was important.  However, the 300 member committee was simply a fig leaf as behind closed doors the UFT leadership negotiated with the City without member participation.

Now that another contract is imminent, the UFT leadership is once again negotiating behind closed doors and we can expect raises that don't even equal the inflation rate and who knows what "givebacks" the union leadership will agree to that hurt members.  We already know there are health care "givebacks".

Because the union leadership keeps everything secret, members cannot object if they have no ides what is being negotiated until it is too late.

List of Givebacks:   

  • Elimination of the seniority transfer.system.
  • Creation of the ATR pool.
  • Creation and expansion of the "probable cause" provision.
  • Adding time and days to the school year.
  • Reinstating circular six requirements.
  • Reducing the TDA interest rate from 8.25% to 7%.
  • Agreed to allow the City to have their own 3020-a provisions.
  • Failed to stop the DOE from using the school based fair student funding that discriminates against veteran teachers.
  • Members can no longer can grieve a letter to the file.
  • Restrictions imposed on ATRs.
  • Increased the vesting period for retiree health benefits for newer members.
 Maybe the union leadership will surprise us and negotiate a contract with raises, at least equal to inflation and no "givebacks" but I'm not holding my breath.

Update:  Our union leadership negotiated a 2% annual raise for the members (7.5%/3.75 years).  This is significantly lower than the 2.8% inflation rate and the inflation rate is expected to go higher in the next two years. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Proof The DOE Does Not Care About Studemts.

The DOE claims that they care about students but the truth is the DOE only cares about themselves.  If the DOE really cared about the students, the DOE would fully fund the schools, reduce class sizes, and eliminate school-based fair student funding that forced principals to "hire the cheapest rather than the best teachers" for their school..

In addition, the DOE had a 2019 budget of $25,6 billio dollars and according to  the City Council..  in their report,  Despite less teachers hired, the DOE headcount went up,  Some of the increase was due to an expansion of Special Education services but the headcount at the Central Bureaucracy also increased.

The DOE has shortchanged students and teachers:
The Department of Education’s $15.8 billion PS budget supports a budgeted headcount of 133,021 full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Most DOE staff work in public schools, and most staff are teachers. Since Fiscal 2015, headcount at DOE has increased by 11,131 positions, for a total of 133,021 budgeted full-time positions in the Fiscal 2019 Preliminary Budget. However, the percent of teachers has steadily declined. In Fiscal 2019 budgeted teacher positions account for approximately two-thirds (64 percent) of all school-based staff but 58 percent of all DOE staff. Most of the headcount increase at DOE includes titles such as literacy coaches, special education support staff, social workers and universal pre-kindergarten teachers, all of which are not listed as teacher titles at DOE. The figure below shows DOE’s overall FTE headcount since Fiscal 2015 and the total number of teachers. However, we may see this trend begin to reverse as the Four-Month Actual headcount for Fiscal 2018 in the PMMR is indicating an increase of 152 teacher titles.

It appears the DOE rather spend money on headcount, especially in the Central Bureaucracy, rather than spend it on students and schools.  A prime example id that instead of building more classrooms, students are crammed into trailers that had only a life of ten years and now have toxic black mold.

How many students get sick because they are being put into trailers that have lasted long past their lifespan?   The New York Post identified the problem and yet the DOE has done little but claim they are working on the trailer issue.  For the DOE its all talk and no action at the expense of the students and teachers who must suffer the consequences.

Friday, October 05, 2018

It Appears That Teacher Respect Is Making A Comeback

Over the past couple of year American altitudes toward teacher reputation and respect has been improving.    The Answer Sheet wrote an article that, using Time Magazine's cover page, showed how teachers were thought of at the beginning of the Obama Administration and what's happening presently.  Also, Education Week wrote a similar piece.

At the beginning of the Obama tenure as President, his administration embraced the education reform movement that demonize teachers.  Starting with his nomination of Arnie Duncan as Education Secretary, who single handedly destroyed the Chicago Public Schools that resulted in many schools closing and teachers terminated.   Then Obama blamed teachers in Rhode Island for the low test scores, conveniently ignoring that the high school he cited was composed of recent immigrants and English Language Learners.  Obama was a strong supporter of education reform and along with then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and  the Walton family, decided to evaluate teacher competence by student test scores.

Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee,  was the "rock star" of the reform movement.  She imposed a teacher evaluation system that entirely relied on test scores.  The result was that many Washington D.C.teachers were unfairly fired.  Moreover, the Obama administration bribed states to develop their own test-based teacher evaluation system by giving them money as they were cutting education funds due to the recession.  This was called Race to the Top   Finally, the reform movement had  the media as allies as teachers were the blame for all school ills.  An example was Time magazine's cover called "Rotten Apples", which demonized teachers.

When states adopted the education reform programs and they failed to improve student academic achievement, .the Obama administration backed away by not supplying additional funding as the President also facing reelection and realized that his ant-public school teacher and pro charter agenda was a political liability.  Of course his teacher evaluation systems were now part of every state's education policy.  By the last year of the Obama administration, Arnie Duncan was gone and the charter school miracle was a mirage.

The combination of a recession, the Obama administration, and the media,  teacher disrespect was at its peak.  Since 2000, teacher salaries were noncompetitive, when compared to other professions and even conservative parents now  support teacher demands for higher salaries, small classes, and more respect.  States like West Virginia,   Oklahoma, Washington, and Arizona saw teacher salaries increase and teacher respect becoming an  issue.

Let's hope that the teaching profession becomes a respected profession throughout the nation.

Monday, October 01, 2018

My Best Guess On What The Next Contract Will Include.

I suspect that the UFT will present it's members with a new contract quite soon.  The question is what will the new contract include?  Here are my best guesses.

  • A three year contract with raises averaging around 2% annually.  Probably back loaded with the lowest raise (1%) the first year and the highest raise (3%) for the final year of the contract. 
  • Only two observations yearly instead of four, at least for those educators who are "highly effective".
  • No change in the ATR rules. Therefore, look for 1,300+ ATRs at the beginning of the semester.  More teacher misconduct chargesmay be subject to the "probable cause" provision and therefore can be removed from payroll and have their health benefits suspended.
  • No change in the DOE hiring process and fair student funding.

There may be other changes but I doubt they will be beneficial to UFT members,  I just hope the union leadership does not allow for "givebacks" to the City.