Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I AccuseThe Union Of Eroding Teacher Rights & What They Need To Do To Reverse It

I accuse the UFT of not protecting teacher rights. The retreat by this union under Randi Weingarten and her friends has made teaching in the classroom unbearable. That's assuming you are not an ATR or in the "rubber room". I do not come to my accusation lightly. I fact, I am very reluctant to write this article but I have had enough how we teachers are disrespected not only by the DOE and their media minions but by our own union leaders who look the other way as more and more mandates are dumped on the classroom teacher. I accuse this union of betraying it's members and demand that the union present my twelve point plan to allow teachers to teach with respect and dignity.

First, The union agreement to allow a non-educator to be chancellor was a mistake and needs to be ended. The chancellor controls the DOE budget priorities and his emphasis has been the hiring of more and more non-educators at the top levels at Tweed at the expense of the educator.

Second, mayoral control. Who in their right mind would allow one person (the mayor) to determine policy for an education system that he has no understanding of. This too must end. The two most powerful people who control the schools are both non-educators who are clueless what goes on in a classroom. How could a union allow this?

Third, The October 2005 contract disaster that made teaching in the classroom unbearable. The union must recover all the givebacks in the next contract. Not one but all! This terrible contract givebacks for you teachers who forgot what you gave up are listed below.
  • Increased workday - 150 more minutes a week in the classroom.
  • Longer work year - 192 days this year alone.
  • Elimination of grievances for Letters-In-File (LIF).
  • Elimination of the Seniority Transfer System.
  • Inclusion of administrative assignments - cafeteria, hallway, and bathroom duties.
  • The expansion of the number of ATR's.
  • The suspension of a teacher for up to 90 days without pay and health benefits based upon hearsay evidence.
Fourth, the union must stop allowing a steady increase of teachers reassigned to the "rubber rooms" based upon frivolous, or minor charges. The increase under Bloomberg and Klein went from 315 in March 2003 to 757 in October 2007. Rumors are that this number is still increasing as the "rubber rooms" are bursting at the seems.

Fifth, stop the recruitment over the retention of teachers approach. Our union seems more concerned with recruiting teachers than retaining teachers. Just look at the givebacks on the classroom teacher just so that our union could pay the newbie teacher a competitive salary. Is there any wonder that we have seen teacher resignations double to 4,600 last school year? How about those housing vouchers and loan forgiveness programs for newbie teachers?

Sixth, stop allowing the DOE to hire teachers from alternative certification programs (Teach for America & Teaching Fellows programs) as well as conducting an intergalactic job fair for foreign teachers while experienced teachers are relegated to be ATR's.

Seventh, The union's acceptance of the dismantling of the large traditional high school and the resulting overcrowding of the remaining large high schools is disgusting. To further spike the data the union looks the other way as small schools don't need to take special education and ELA students for the first two years. Further, these small schools can weed out the level one students with attendance and/or behavior problems. By the way where do you think these students end up? Right. the remaining large, increasingly overcrowded, traditional high schools.

Eight, The union's acceptance of weakened and non-enforcement of student discipline codes. The union should be demanding a strengthening of the student discipline code and bring charges against administrators who refuse to enforce these codes.

Ninth, Demand that the DOE culture of teacher disrespect end by requiring a fair and impartial investigation of any alleged teacher misconduct. presently, a principal can find any excuse to remove a teacher and the non-educators that are at Tweed assume the teacher is guilty until proven not guilty (you expected me to say innocent?. According to the DOE no teacher is innocent if accused).

Tenth, Go back to the State 3020-a process, where teachers have due process rights.

Eleventh, all excessed teachers must be placed before a school district would be allowed to hire a newbie teacher in that subject area.

Twelfth, make the Fair Student Formula (FSF) for the schools salary blind and does not give the lower salaried teacher an advantage as it does now.

Under Randi Weingarten and her staff the once-strong union has become reactive rather than pro-active. All I hear from our union leaders are talk, talk, talk, but little action. Under her leadership we have seen a deterioration of the classroom environment and teacher respect. It's time to stop the DOE micromanagement of the classroom and let teachers teach the way that is best for the students in that teacher's classroom


Anonymous said...


Congratulations on seeing the total picture. Your list is complete. Unfortunately most of the teachers at work do not read the blogs.

Also, the only thing that even attracts the attention of the UFT and the DOE is legal action.

At this time, we are waiting to see if one of the federal judges hearing the Teachers4Action lawsuit will grant some form of injuctive relief on the 3020a issue.

On another matter, it seems that the DOE has dropped its appeal of recent State Supreme Court rulings. Those rulings stated that letters placed in the files of four teachers were illegal because the letters stated that the teachers were guilty of disciplinary charges without prior 3020a proceedings. The question now is, what about the many teachers that received similar letters in their files? What is the UFT going to do about that issue?

17 (really 15) more years said...

Your post is right on the money, and should be required reading for all teachers. Sadly, I can speak from experience that some teachers actually still believe that Randi would "never" sell us down the river. I guess they don't realize she already has.

I am so disgusted with what has happened to NYC public schools.

proofoflife said...

You are right on with these demands. I have seen TFA come and get there education and leave as soon as the two year commitment is up. This leaves schools that are "in need of improvment" in a vunerable position because planning becomes almost impossible. It hurts the kids. I agree 1000% about the ATR situstion. All ATR's should be hired before newbies are placed in vacancies. In fact, "F" stsus teachers who are the "pets" of principals should also not be allowed to suck up the budget before an ATR is placed. There are so many schools where the principals hold onto their buddies to do God knows what as F status teachers. No disrespect intended. If in fact someone is an F status and is really doing a job. It's just that I haven't heard of too many of those!

Anonymous said...


I forgot about the "F" status educators and how they can also drain a budget.

I can only hope our education system can survive the "Kleinberg reforms".

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Thanks for the education!

Moriah Untamed said...

That's some list. We have lost so much!

Anonymous said...

"Also, the only thing that even attracts the attention of the UFT and the DOE is legal action.."

That would change immediately if there were a concerted effort to organize ourselves and monopolize mobilization.

There has never been a better time than now to break the back of Unity and the DOE. We are at a crisis point in NYC. All of us know a teacher or two who works in a school or two. Reach out and touch someone. Collect email addresses. Point people to the blogs and alternative caucuses.

Randi, I know you read the blogs. You are not half the labor leader you think you are. You're a bureaucrat. You've placed your political ambitions before the needs of your union brothers and sisters. It takes many of us ten years to make what you make in one year (double-salary and perks). Each day more and more of us educate ourselves.

Keep parading people onstage during the DA. Keep putting their faces in your newspaper. Pathetic propaganda.

We're falling apart...the center cannot hold...

NYC will judge you harshly sooner than you think!

Get some rest Randi. The next few years will be tough for Unity!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you're complaining about having to work 192 days - that's barely more than half a year. You really make the hardworking among us look bad when you whine about having to work a half-year and then demand more pay and less class-time, especially considering the crisis American education is in. We need more time in school, not less.

Anonymous said...

We just had an eight week stretch with one day off. After a long time in school, there are diminishing returns as students get tired.

How do the suburbs manage to teach their kids with tenured teachers who work 183 days? Socrates you don't know what

Anonymous said...

The last line should say that Socrates doesn't know what he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

True, this week (April 16-18)I had been defending a teacher from obtaining a U rating and get terminated if she refused to sign an agreement to extend her probation for another year. I was so drained due to stress, only to hear from the UFT to tell my teacher to sign the document so that she won't loose her job. I was so petrified when I heard this from my high school district representative. UFT had surrendered so much to the vultures. Randi Weingarten must direct her UFT legal luminaries to immediately go to court to pray for a court INJUNCTION to stop DOE principals from intimidating, threatening, and coercing teachers to sign the ILLEGALLY drafted Extension of Probationary Period Agreement.