Monday, April 7, 2014

Inside AFT--April 4

 

 

Supreme Court sides with big money in politics

With the U.S. Supreme Court's April 2 ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the voices of everyday Americans have been squashed again, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. The ruling struck down critical limits in our nation's federal election laws on the total amount wealthy individuals can give directly to political candidates, parties and committees. "We once had rules that allowed everyone a fair shot at the American dream and access to democracy," Weingarten says, "but now access to government is reserved for the most powerful and influential with millions and millions of dollars to buy elections. The avalanche of money spent on elections would be better spent creating jobs, improving our neighborhood public schools, fixing our disintegrating infrastructure and building a better future for our children."

Minneapolis contract will help all children succeed

A new contract agreement ratified March 29 by members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers will help reclaim the promise of public education in that city, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. The contract "opens a new chapter in the relationship that includes the Minneapolis community, Minneapolis educators and the city's public school system," she says. "The agreement enables partners to work together to create community schools tailored to meet students' needs, and it recognizes and values the voice and experience of educators in strengthening Minneapolis schools and helping all children succeed. By taking important steps toward limiting class sizes—particularly in the city's high-priority schools—this agreement advances the goal that teachers, parents and all who care about Minneapolis children share: making sure that all students, no matter what neighborhood they live in, receive the support they need to succeed, with equity in resources across the school district."

Reclaiming the Promise

AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and MSNBC and radio host Ed Schultz were among the featured speakers at March 28's "Rally to reMember" in Madison, Wis. Organized by AFT Local 234, which represents faculty and staff at Madison Area Technical College, the rally highlighted Reclaiming the Promise themes. More than 600 union members and allies showed up to demonstrate their solidarity and signed on to reclaim the promise.

PISA report looks at students' problem-solving skills

A new report on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's PISA assessment makes clear the importance of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills as a pathway to preparing kids for the global economy, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. This is the first PISA report on problem-solving skills, and it focused on 15-year-olds in 44 countries. "While it's good news that U.S. teens performed problem-solving skills significantly better than students in other countries with similar reading, mathematics and science performance," Weingarten says, "Japan and other top-ranking countries do better because they focus on problem solving across all subjects with strategies such as student-led projects that create deeper, integrated learning."

NY budget a mixed bag for children and communities

New York state's recently adopted budget is a mixed bag for the state's children, families and communities, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. While the budget "provides a much-needed injection of state aid for our public school students, and starts the process of making that formula need-based again," she says, "it worsens the anti-democratic tax cap and hurts communities' ability to make decisions on behalf of their students. And while it increases financial aid and supports for students attending colleges and universities, and expands pre-K dramatically, helping solidify Mayor Bill de Blasio's marque objective to open the door to a better future for thousands of children, it also sadly favors those children who attend charters over those who attend traditional public schools.

Big win for charter school staff on Cesar Chavez Day

On Cesar Chavez's birthday, teachers at Cesar Chavez Academy, Detroit's largest charter school, won a settlement that will return laid-off educators to the school and provide more than $75,000 in back pay. Representatives from the teachers union, the Cesar Chavez Academy Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (CCA ACTS), reached a deal on March 31 with the Leona Group—the for-profit company that manages the day-to-day operations of the charter school. "It's incredible that we were able to celebrate this victory on Cesar Chavez's birthday, and I'm elated that we were able to share this moment with hundreds of our school's amazing students and parents," says Rose Crowley, a reading specialist at CCA High School. The same day the deal was reached, CCA educators were joined by more than 600 parents, students, alumni, union leaders, public officials and community representatives at a screening, sponsored by AFT Michigan and CCA ACTS, of the new Diego Luna film, "Cesar Chavez: History Is Made One Step at a Time."

Bill would bring more accountability to charters

Charter school legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives is positive step toward improved accountability, but more needs to be done, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act on April 1. "Our first responsibility is to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education that enables them to achieve their dreams," Weingarten says. "Publicly financed charter schools have a place in a public education system, but they must be held to the same standards of accountability, equitable access and transparency as public schools."

Philly education activist honored by the White House

Helen Gym, the founder of Parents United for Public Education in Philadelphia, was honored by the White House on March 31 as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change. She is a longtime leader in the Philadelphia community, fighting for public education, immigrant justice and civil rights. "Whether as a board member of Asian Americans United or an editor for education-related publications like The Philadelphia Public School Notebook or Rethinking Schools, Helen has used her pen, her voice and her strategic mind to bring real and much-needed solutions to the Philadelphia community," AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "This past year, her leadership has been especially vital as the crisis in Philadelphia's public schools has escalated and Gov. Tom Corbett, Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission have eviscerated school budgets, closed dozens of schools, laid off thousands of teachers and school employees, and left Philadelphia's public school students with very few resources."

Where & When

 

AFT president Randi Weingarten will address the New York State United Teachers' Representative Assembly in New York City on April 6. On April 7, she will be in Boston to meet with local leaders, host a town hall discussion with area members and address Harvard Law School's Advocates for Education conference. On April 9, Weingarten will address the Coalition for Community Schools' 2014 Community Schools National Forum in Cincinnati and receive its National Community Partner Award on behalf of the AFT. She also will visit the University of Cincinnati Medical College and host a town hall meeting with area members. On April 10, she will address the National Action Network's annual convention in New York City, and she also will be honored with the first Bayard Rustin Labor Leader of the Year award. On April 11, Weingarten will address the AFT Higher Education conference in Baltimore and will address the AFT PSRP conference in Orlando, Fla., that evening.

AFT secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson will lead a delegation to Education International's Second World Women's Conference in Dublin, Ireland, from April 5-10. On April 11, she will meet in London with leaders of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers and of UNISON, the second-largest trade union in the United Kingdom.

AFT executive vice president Francine Lawrence will be the luncheon speaker at the AFT's Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Program meeting in St. Louis on April 5. On April 9, she will attend "American Education in Global Perspective," sponsored by the AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute, which is a part of the Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education conversation series. On April 11, she will be a panelist at a session during the 2014 Council for Exceptional Children convention in Philadelphia. The panel, "Connecting Research-to-Practice: From Scooby Doo to You ... Eliminating Bullying Is What We Can Do!", will focus on how the media can be used to address bullying.

 

April 4, 2014

In this issue:

Supreme Court sides with
big money in politics


Minneapolis contract will help all children succeed

PISA report looks at students' problem-solving skills

NY budget a mixed bag for children and communities

Big win for charter school staff on Cesar Chavez Day

Bill would bring more accountability to charters

Philly education activist honored by the White House

 


 

Healthy schools
The AFT is a partner and supporter of National Healthy Schools Day, which will be held on April 8. "There is a growing mountain of evidence linking student achievement and health to school building conditions," AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "The AFT is fighting for increased investment in our children's education with an emphasis on rebuilding outdated, inefficient and dangerous school buildings." Lots more information, including ideas for activities to plan, is available online.

 


 

The entry deadline for the 2014 AFT Communications Awards Contest has been extended to April 7. Winners will be honored during at a July 13 reception at the AFT convention in Los Angeles.

 


 

 

 

Connect with us on

     

Inside AFT, an electronic newsletter for leaders and activists, is prepared by the AFT communications department. Contributors and sources for this week's edition include Regina Grossman, Education Austin, AFT Michigan, Leslie Getzinger, Tear Jones Murphy, Catherine Mason and Mary Kaniewski. Dan Gursky, editor; Jane Feller, copy editor.

Contact Us » | AFT 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001 | Unsubscribe »

© American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. © 2014

FW: UFT Weekly Update April 4


Subject: UFT Weekly Update April 4

 

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UFT Weekly Update – April  4, 2014  

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In this issue


Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, April 9 at 52 Broadway

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week - April 4, 2014

A POSITIVE DIALOGUE: Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke with educators at the UFT Queens Borough Office on April 1 in the second of five borough town hall meetings.

News of the Week

State budget a mixed bag for education

A state budget agreement reached on March 29 increases school aid by 5.3 percent statewide, including $400 million more for New York City schools. It also provides enough money to fund the mayor's pre-kindergarten expansion and $14 million for teacher centers. "We had two major goals this year in Albany — to get state aid distributed based on need rather than political prowess, and getting money for universal pre-K. We were successful in both," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mayor Bill de Blasio did not have the same success with respect to charter schools. The agreement bans New York City from charging rent to charter schools and requires the city to find room for all new and expanding charters in public school buildings or pay for private facilities. In addition, charters will receive a $500 per-pupil funding increase over the next three years and will now be allowed to open pre-kindergarten classes. Mulgrew criticized the favoritism of charter schools at the expense of public schools. "Our students can't be second-class citizens in their own school system," he said. Read the full story.

Join us for the BRAVE anti-bullying conference on May 2

You are invited to participate in a day of understanding and acceptance at the UFT's 3rd annual Anti-Bullying Conference on Friday, May 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at UFT headquarters. We are fortunate to have Kerry Kennedy, the president of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, as our conference keynote speaker. The RFK Center's Project SEATBELT focuses on bullying as a human rights issue and the need to establish safe environments for K-12 school children. The day will also feature workshops on anti-bullying strategies and related topics from many different perspectives. We have secured national and local leaders in the field to lead these workshops, including the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the Anti-Defamation League, the National School Climate Center, Peace Dynamics, the Council for Unity and our own UFT experts. The conference fee of $30 includes take-away materials, continental breakfast and lunch. Registration for this event is limited, so please send in your registration form as quickly as possible. The registration deadline is April 25.

Participate in the UFT's 1st annual 5K family run on May 10

The UFT middle school division will hold its first annual 5K family run on Saturday, May 10 in Coney Island. Please encourage your members to bring their family and friends and join us for this untimed walk/race to benefit the UFT Disaster Relief Fund. Through generous member support, the fund has contributed thousands of dollars to relief operations following natural disasters in Haiti, Japan, the Philippines and our own area in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy. Beginning at MCU Park in Coney Island, the family run will take place from 8:30 to noon. Complimentary water, snacks, giveaways and raffle prizes will be provided for each race participant. The fee to participate in this event is $25 for adults and $15 for children age 12 or younger. Consider recruiting a team from your school — or bring your friends and family. Please post this flier on your UFT bulletin board. For the online registration and sponsor forms as well as the route map, see the UFT.org event listing.

Schools should have the new end-of-year UFT evaluation guides

End-of-year guides to the new teacher evaluation and development system have been shipped to schools. This is the first — and we hope the last — guide to ending a school year under this particular evaluation system. As you know, the UFT is in talks with the city. The guide, called Summing it up: An end-of-year guide to the new teacher evaluation & development system, includes a timeline and information on summative conferences, artifacts, professional records, ratings and how student assessment results will figure into evaluations. You and your members will also be able to access the guide plus additional information on the evaluation system on the UFT website. Schools should all have their guides by today. Please contact your district representative if you have not received your guides.


And on uft.org don't miss


To Do

  • Please let teachers who are covered by the new evaluation and development system know that Friday, April 11 is the last day to submit artifacts. If they are missing evidence on any Danielson component for domains 1 and 4, they may consider what kind of artifact they could submit to demonstrate their effectiveness in that area. When submitting an artifact, they might also consider making it clear to their evaluator in writing or verbally that they are submitting an artifact. Members may, in addition, consider sending the evaluator a follow-up email after submission asking for feedback. If a principal or other evaluator is missing evidence on any components for a teacher, the evaluator must ask the teacher for additional artifacts (for domains 1 and 4) or for additional observations (for domains 2 and 3). See a partial list of some possible artifacts on the UFT website. Teachers may choose to submit their lesson plans as an artifact for evaluation, but a principal cannot mandate it.
  • Teachers have until April 11 to complete the DOE's online School Survey, previously called the Learning Environment Survey. As always, we encourage teachers to participate in the process. Schools will no longer be receiving a School Progress Report grade at the end of the school year, but the DOE plans to issue a public document on the survey findings. Parent survey materials for all grade levels, including District 75 schools, as well as student surveys for students in grades 6-12, were distributed in schools.
  • What's creative, unique or inventive about your classroom or the classroom of a fellow teacher? The New York Teacher is looking for photographs to showcase in its "Inside my classroom" feature, which highlights teachers' favorite aspects of their classrooms — from well-organized libraries to imaginative anchor charts. Chapter leaders, please advise teachers that they can send their high-resolution photos (450 KB and up, please) to uftphotos@gmail.com and should include their name, school, borough and a brief description.
  • You and your UFT colleagues are invited to attend the annual Spring Education Conference on Saturday, April 26, which is earlier than in years past. Encourage members of your chapter to celebrate the hard work we do to nurture, inspire and educate children. This year, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will be our town hall speaker. The conference will also feature exhibits, workshops on timely and relevant topics and a gala luncheon. The event, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will be held at the New York Hilton, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street. The fee is $50 and includes breakfast and lunch. Pre-registration is required. To register, complete the mail-in coupon. The deadline to register is April 11.
  • Understanding that there are many questions and concerns about student surveys being part of the teacher evaluation system in the future, the UFT advocated for a small pilot this year and an expanded pilot next year so that we have as many facts at our disposal as possible before any stakes are attached. To that end, the UFT and the DOE have agreed to pilot the student surveys in a subset of schools this year rather than all schools as the state education commissioner had ordered in his decision. A letter was sent to many schools in March inviting them to participate in the pilot. School participation is voluntary, and no school can participate in the pilot if the chapter leader does not agree. The chapter leader should hold a union meeting or devise a basic survey to determine if the staff is willing to participate. If your school community would be interested in participating in this pilot and your school did not receive the letter, contact your district rep. The UFT's position has always been that student surveys should be used for formative purposes only. The UFT will be monitoring the process very closely and seeking feedback from our members at the pilot schools, and will advocate for conditions that allow for student voice to be heard and our members' professionalism to be respected and protected.
  • Teachers should be aware that parents of students in their classes may have chosen to "opt out" of the upcoming state ELA and math tests. Chapter leaders should consult with their principals regarding any students participating in the opt-out option. In guidelines issued on March 27, Chancellor Fariña instructed principals to "respect the parents' decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child with an alternate educational activity (e.g., reading) during testing times." We recommend that UFT members not advise parents on whether or not to opt their children out of testing. If parents are seeking guidance, we recommend that you refer them to the school principal.
  • The process for establishing School-Based Options (SBOs) for next school year should have begun. Since all SBOs sunset every year, with the exception of the 7/8 period day SBOs in elementary schools, all SBOs implemented during the 2013-2014 school year must be reviewed and revisions (if any) should be discussed. In addition, the chapter committee or the principal may propose new SBOs. In March or early April, your chapter committee, led by the chapter leader, should hold a consultation meeting with the principal with the sole purpose of discussing/reviewing any SBOs either the chapter or the principal would like to see implemented for the next school year. Prior to that consultation meeting, you should survey your chapter regarding SBOs. As chapter leader, you have the right not to put to a vote any SBO that your chapter does not like. While an SBO requires the support of 55 percent of voting members in order to be ratified, you should not put to a vote an SBO that does not have the near-unanimous support of your membership. SBOs should never split your membership, because you have the right to say no to anything that will be divisive. Give your district rep an opportunity to review your SBO before your members vote. Make sure your members (and not just your principal) benefit from any SBOs you choose to put to a vote. In order for the district rep and union leadership to properly review each SBO, all SBOS should be submitted by the second week of June at the latest. Please make sure your district rep is kept informed at every stage of the process. Please consult the SBO Manual for detailed guidance.
  • The DOE will be opening 24 new schools for the 2014-2015 school year and therefore there are open positions. Please share the online list of postings for the new schools with your members in the event a member may be interested in applying for a transfer. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Sill at msill@uft.org, or your district representative.
  • Please help your members determine if they need to take the six-hour course on the prevention of and intervention in bullying, discrimination and harassment that is now required for certification by the New York State Dignity for All Act. Although most of our members do not need the course, we need your help to make sure that the members who need to take the course now get into classes. Members who meet the following criteria do NOT need to take the course: a) permanently or professionally certified; b) hired prior to 2004; c) level 3 certificate holders (paraprofessionals) and applicants for certification prior to Jan. 1, 2014. The classes are full, and we need to give priority to all teachers and school-related professionals who applied for their state certificate on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Remind them that the UFT is an approved provider of this course and offers it at 52 Broadway and in the union's borough offices at a cost of $25 for paras and $50 for all other members. Check the UFT Safety Workshop page for registration information or call 212-598-9287. We also have a number of new FAQs that you and members can consult.
  • Please tell teachers covered by the new evaluation and development system that summative conferences will begin on April 25 and end on June 20. These are one-on-one conferences between a teacher and the principal or other evaluator. The conferences are an opportunity for the teacher and the evaluator to have a conversation regarding the classroom observations conducted during the year and the scored Danielson components in the teacher's evaluation. Please contact your district rep if you have any questions.
  • Between March 24 and June 6, schools will administer the summative assessments that will be incorporated into the annual evaluations of many teachers. These assessments include the NYC Performance Assessments, as well as Running Records, FAST and Scantron Performance assessments. A calendar of allowable assessment dates for each exam was sent to your principal in February. These assessments matter, and it is crucial that schools develop appropriate protocols around test administration, norming and scoring. Chapter leaders and their consultation teams should meet with principals regarding: 1) testing dates; 2) communications with the school community — including teachers, students and parents — about the tests; 3) teacher training for scoring; and 4) how time will be provided for scoring. Schools must provide teachers with the time to meet and score the exams, either during the school day or through paid per session (schools will receive an allocation for scoring). Please let your district rep know immediately if your principal does not consult with your chapter regarding the implementation of these assessments.
  • Urge all your members to check their personnel files at least yearly to point out and remove old letters in their file. Our contract provides that any letter over three years old should be removed if no disciplinary charges are attached to that letter. If members have not done so recently, they should make an appointment with the principal to see their file and flag items for removal.
  • Remind your members that social networking sites often seduce us into saying or revealing things online that we used to share only in personal conversations or letters. Urge members to always think twice before posting messages, photos or videos on such sites. School staff is held to a higher moral code, and, like it or not, we need to be aware of how such postings may be interpreted by the public. How to judge? Ask yourself: Would I be okay if my elderly mom/grandmom, clergy member or kid sister saw the posting? Some summer activities do not need to be memorialized online!
  • Tell your members that the DOE's Payroll Portal has updated its login feature. Anyone wishing to access the system now has to use his or her DOE ID and password on the first screen. In addition, starting March 31, the option to enter the portal by Social Security number is no longer available. Alert your members that they instead need to use their employee ID or information system ID along with their Outlook user ID and password. The employee ID is the reference number that appears on your pay stub. H Bank employees can obtain their employee ID by logging onto Cybershift. These changes will keep information private and secure. Members are still able to log on to the Payroll Portal from either a DOE network computer or a private computer. All items on the Payroll Portal, such as payroll information, self-service features, documents and links, are still available. Consult the memo for more information.
  • Teachers holding a Professional Certificate who were certified between 2009 and 2010 should have received a letter and a tracking form from the DOE in January alerting them that they have to submit proof of completing 175 hours of professional development during the past five-year cycle. Make sure your members understand that 175 hours of professional development every five years is a requirement only for those who hold a Professional Certificate. Currently there are 2,500 members who are in jeopardy of losing their certification if the documentation is not submitted on time. Documentation must be submitted no later than June 13. It is very important for chapter leaders to alert their members that any professional development taken outside the school should be approved in writing by your principal prior to taking the PD. At the end of each year, the tracking sheet should be approved and signed by the principal. At the end of the five years, all signed tracking sheets must be submitted to the DOE, which will report your completed professional development hours to the State Education Department. Direct your members to the NYS Education Department website to review the range of available PD. If you have any questions, please contact the educational liaison in your UFT borough office.
  • Once a teacher signs his or her official observation report, the teacher needs to know that the form must be put into his or her official file. In addition, the teacher has a right to attach a written response to the official observation report. It is very important that all teachers review and proofread their written responses before attaching them to the reports. We encourage chapter leaders to make sure this happens. If teachers email their responses to the evaluator, they should use their DOE email. Whether email or letter, the teacher should use a professional, responsible tone and should bring up any issues or concerns the teacher has about the observation, including whether there were distractions such as from photos being taken or from multiple evaluators being in the room, or if evidence of the teacher's practice was missed or not taken into account. In other words, a teacher's written response to an observation report is an opportunity for the teacher to make any concerns part of the official record.
  • Please let teachers who are covered by the new evaluation system know that they are able to file an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) complaint form online if they feel their rights under the new system are being violated. The complaint form is part of a formal enforcement process in the evaluation system. Members have up to five school days after becoming aware of an issue to complete the complaint form online and give copies to their principal and chapter leader. A copy of the completed form will automatically be sent to the district representative, which will trigger a resolution review process. You must log in to the UFT website to access the form. The chapter leader inquiry form remains up for questions only.
  • Do you or a fellow teacher in your school have creative ideas, interesting practices or innovative methods for improving classroom instruction that you feel could benefit fellow educators? The New York Teacher is looking for educators to write Teacher to Teacher columns. The articles should explain pedagogic techniques, approaches or resources that educators can use to help students. The pieces should be about 750 words. Columnists will be paid $150 for accepted works. If you are interested, please call Rachel Nobel during business hours (10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) at 212-598-9201 or email her at rnobel@uft.org.

For your information

Early childhood-licensed teachers and scoring: Early childhood-licensed teachers who have applied for ELA/math scoring per session positions may have been contacted by the Department of Education asking them to report what grade(s) they are currently teaching. Any early childhood teacher with retention rights or who has successfully served in this activity and is denied a position should contact his or her UFT borough office immediately. Please remember the time frame for filing grievances on per session selection is two work days from knowledge of the selection.

Apply for an excellence in school wellness award: Our schools work hard to promote healthy eating and physical activity among our students. All elementary schools are encouraged to apply for a NYC Excellence in School Wellness Award, which recognizes this effort. The application for the 2013-2014 school year will be sent to principals, so please share this information with your principal and encourage him or her to apply. The completed application must be received by April 11. Award recipients will be publicly recognized at a ceremony in June. All winners will receive an award (gold, silver or bronze) and public recognition from city officials and the media, including our own New York Teacher. For more information, download the Technical Resource Guide.

Honor your math and science teachers: The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. The 2014 Awards will honor mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers working in grades K-6. Winning teachers receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend a series of professional development events. Nominees must have at least five years of full-time K-12 math or science teaching experience prior to the 2013-14 school year. Teachers may also nominate themselves for this award. You can nominate a teacher or nominate yourself. Applications must include a video, three letters of recommendation from administrators, colleagues, parents, students or others, and a written response. The deadline for nominations was April 1. Completed applications are due May 1.

Tax deductions for teachers: The IRS says: "If you are an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each) of any unreimbursed expenses you paid or incurred for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics. This deduction is for expenses paid or incurred during the tax year." The Educator Expense is an "Adjustment to Gross Income" so you can use it if you use the standard deduction or itemize. For more information, see the IRS website.

DOE releases transgender student guidelines: Many questions arise for students and school staff when considering the best supports for transgender students. The DOE's guidelines are designed to provide direction for schools to address issues that may arise concerning the needs of transgender students. The DOE says its guidelines are intended to help schools ensure a safe learning environment free of discrimination and harassment and to promote the educational and social integration of transgender students. You can read the guidelines on the DOE website.

Earth Day festivities: Save the date for the largest green celebration in the country at Earth Day in Union Square on Tuesday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Teachers are encouraged to bring their students to take part in kid-friendly activities, view live performances and check out all of the green exhibits on site, including a green vehicle show and a green travel exhibition. Find more information on the Earth Day New York website, or contact Earth Day New York at info@earthdayny.org.

Grief and loss counseling: The UFT Member Assistance Program (MAP) offers counseling to assist you in managing your grief and adjusting to the loss of a family member, significant other, friend or colleague. The spring series of the Bereavement Support Group has begun. Sessions are held at the MAP office. Here is a flier with the grief and loss counseling schedule spring.

W2s to schools: W2s were delivered to schools on Thursday, Jan. 31. Members who are no longer active (retirees, resignations, terminations) had their W2s mailed to the home address currently on file with the DOE. W2s for per diems were also mailed. Members can request copies of their W2s for the last three years or request a correction by logging onto to the DOE's payroll portal. If an address correction is needed, they must contact HR Connect at 718-935-4000 before the duplicate and/or corrected W2 is requested. If members have any questions regarding their W2s, they should also call HR Connect.

Online application process for maternity and health-related leaves of absence: Nonsupervisory educators (teachers, guidance counselors, school secretaries, social workers and psychologists) are now required to use the Self-Service Online Leave Application System (SOLAS) to apply for maternity leaves, restoration of health leaves and health sabbatical leaves, in addition to the nonmedical leave types that were previously available in SOLAS. Your school's designated leave secretary also now has access to SOLAS to verify timekeeping. For more information, see the DOE's SOLAS FAQ.

New Teacher Handbook: The latest edition of the UFT's New Member Handbook (Teachers' Edition) is online. Easy to use and full of information useful not only for new, but also veteran teachers, the handbook features clear explanations and handy links to forms, services and further information.

Help shape your students' health: The Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Schools Program supports more than 14,000 schools across the United States in their efforts to create environments where physical activity and healthy eating are accessible and encouraged. The Alliance provides expert advice and resources for school professionals, teachers and students in addition to information specifically for parents. The signup process for the Healthy Schools Program is free and easy. Join now for immediate access to great tools and tips that will help make our children's generation a healthier generation.

DA resolutions online: Couldn't get to the last Delegate Assembly? You can now find online all the resolutions passed at the DAs. To view the full online archive of our union's resolutions, hover your mouse over Where We Stand in the top navigation of the uft.org homepage, and then select Union Resolutions.


In the News

U.S. students place high in creative problem-solving: U.S. 15-year-olds scored above average on a new international assessment that measures creative problem-solving skills, reports Education Week. The test was administered by the Program for Student Assessment (PISA) to 85,000 students worldwide. With an average score of 508 points, U.S. students performed on par with many Western European countries such as England, France and the Netherlands when asked to "understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious." Somewhat surprisingly, American students lagged behind their counterparts in some nations not necessarily known for creativity such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

College football players win right to unionize: A federal labor official has ruled that big-time college football players on full athletic scholarships are paid employees of their universities and are legally entitled to form a union, reports the Washington Post. The ruling recognized a number of differences between the athletes and other students to justify the decision, including the high dollar value of football scholarships, the enormous revenue the sport brings to schools and the 40-50 hours per week the players spend on the field — more than many full-time jobs.

North Carolina's Moral Mondays moving to a state near you: North Carolina's Moral Monday movement that began with a massive march from Raleigh's Shaw University to the State Capitol, where tens of thousands protested the country's most draconian anti-choice laws, the worst voter suppression law, the state's refusal of Medicaid coverage for 500,000 residents and cuts to pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools, is gaining steam and spreading to other states, according to the Nation. Georgia has introduced Truthful Tuesdays with Alabama, South Carolina and Arizona following with similar moral-outrage protests and civil disobedience.


Events Calendar

Tuesday, April 8: Acclaimed author Diane Ravitch will discuss her book "Reign of Error" from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 52 Broadway. Meet and greet the educator and author and get an autographed copy of the book. Contact your borough representative for information about attending the event. Pre-registration is required.

Saturday, April 26: Join us for our Spring Education Conference from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 52 Broadway. See the UFT.org event listing and the item above in To Do for details.

Friday, May 2: Join us for the Be BRAVE Against Bullying Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway, Shanker Hall.  Read more information on this item in News of the Week.

Saturday, May 10: Join us for the UFT Middle School Division's 1st Annual 5K Family Run from 8:30 to noon at MCU Park in Coney Island. For more information read the item above in News of the Week.

Saturday, May 31: Save the date for the Annual School Secretaries Awards Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. Further details to come.

For more events, go to uft.org/calendar.


Professional Committees

UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations and exchanges, enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. Check the lobby for exact locations. For further information contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.

ATSS/UFT (Assn. of Teachers of Social Studies)

  • Tuesdays, April 8 and May 13, 5 p.m., CSPSS Meeting.
  • Fridays, April 25 and May 16, 4:30 p.m., Executive Board Meeting.
  • Thursday, May 8, 4:00 p.m., Labor in the Classroom

ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

  • Tuesday, April 29, 4:30 p.m., Using Historical and/or Narrative Poetry to Teach Literacy Devices.
  • Tuesday, May 20, 4:30 p.m., Looking Back & Looking Forward: Planning for 2014/2015.

ESL/Bilingual Committee

  • Thursday, April 10, 4:30 p.m., A Shift in Our Understanding of Vocabulary Acquisition: Expectations and Strategies.

HAEA/UFT (Hellenic-American Educators Assn.)

  • Tuesday, April 8, 3:30 p.m., Board Meeting.
  • Friday, April 25, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.

Humane Education

  • Saturdays, April 5, 12 and 26, 9 a.m., P Credit Course.
  • Sunday, April 6, 9:30 a.m., Common Core Cats and Danielson Dogs Workshop.
  • Saturday, May 3, 9 a.m., Chartered Bus Trip to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Irish American Heritage

  • Thursday, May 29, 4 p.m., Labor Leaders.

Math Teachers

  • Thursday, April 24, 4 p.m., TI-Solutions for Common Core Algebra I.
  • Tuesday, May 13, 4 p.m., ArtMath Workshop.

NYCAFLT/UFT (NYC Assn. of Foreign Language Teachers)

  • Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m., Professional Development Workshops.

NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT

  • Saturday, April 26, 9.a.m., Innovative Drum Circles.

NYCATA/UFT (NYC Art Teachers Assn.)

  • Tuesday, May 13, 4 p.m., ArtMath Workshop.
  • Tuesday, May 20, 4:40 p.m., Open Executive Board Meeting.

NYC Dance Educators/UFT

  • Saturday, May 3, 4 p.m., 12th Annual Student Dance Festival at Long Island City High School, LIC, NY.

Players

  • Friday, April 4, 6 p.m., Luna de Miel Latina/Latin Honeymoon.
  • April 24, 3:30 p.m., Board Meeting.
  • Friday, May 2, 6 p.m., Spring Poetry Event.
  • Friday, May 16, 3:30 p.m., Board Meeting.

Editor: Peter O'Donnell

Contributors include: Mel Aaronson, Karen Alford, Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Hannah Brown, Michelle Daniels, Maia Davis, Catalina Fortino, Mona Gonzalez, Anthony Harmon, Ron Isaac, David Kazansky, Micah Landau, Lisa Lau-Kim, Gregg Lundahl, Richard Mantell, Maisie McAdoo, Nyree McCray, Deidre McFadyen, Cara Metz, Rachel Nobel, Linda Ocasio, Adam Ross, Maureen Salter, Nanette Sanchez-Rosario, Chris Santoro, Laura Tamburo, Rosemarie Thompson, Miriam Vega and Bernadette Weeks

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United Federation of TeachersA Union of Professionals
52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004 • 212.777.7500 • www.uft.org

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