2009-05-01 / School News

School Scope

Are the Planetary Forces Opposing the Ed Deformers Aligning?
By Norman Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott Like the early days of pre-planet formation where elements circulate around each other until gravity pulls them together, lots of forces have been congealing within and without the UFT. People from the usual suspects in UFT politics - ICE and TJC - have been joined by members of NYCORE, Teachers Unite, TAG, ISO and independents, especially some educators in Harlem, whose schools are under assault from charters, to form a coalition called Grassroots Education Movement.

Taking on the co-related issues of closing schools, ATRs, high stakes testing, rubber rooms, principal power, DOE oppression, charter schools and mayoral control, GEM has started reaching out to non-educators who are also mobilizing around some of these issues, especially mayoral control.

In the meantime, ICE has been meeting on presenting a list of contract demands, which believe it or not, was discussed at the April 22 UFT Delegate Assembly.

All these forces came together at the DA, with some people from TAG holding an informational picket. Some GEM people handed out leaflets on the upcoming charter school conference at PACE University on May 4. Other GEMers handed out a leaflet for the GEM May 14 rally and march up Broadway to UFT headquarters and on to Tweed.

A motion calling for No New Hiring Until ATR Teachers are Placed and No School Closings was to be presented by another group not affiliated with GEM.

If you are a NYC educator, there comes a time to get involved, even if the onslaught against public schools has not yet reached your school. If you can't make the charter school conference, reserve May 14 and join GEM and its supporters on the rally and march.

Unfortunately, this is one DA I couldn't make, as I was out of town.

Many people attended, some for the first time and got to see UFT democracy inaction.

Signing away Tenure

When I get a letter like the one below, I refer it to Jeff Kaufman, one of ICE's experts on all matters UFT. One thing is clear, this teacher would never get a straight answer from the UFT.

"I'm writing because you mention in your Jan. 30, 2007 EdNotes blog that "Teachers are being pressured to sign away their tenure rights in these time and attendance hearings. This was a 2005 provision."

"I am being called to one of these expedited hearings (I thought it was a 3020a procedure). Can you explain what you meant about "signing away your tenure rights"?

"Also, do you know if the DOE has outlined anywhere a time and attendance policy? Outside from the 10 days per year refunded to your CAR, this seems to be a completely uncharted territory. People are getting called out for all sorts of things and there seems to be no clear policy on how you may use the days in your CAR. I used a considerable amount of days [due to illness] but they were in the CAR and they were all very well documented by physicians with causes and reports.

Thanks for any advice you might be able to provide."

Jeff responds:

"Since the provision appeared in our contract I have been involved, directly or indirectly, in about five of these proceedings. They are 3020-a hearings but have been modified to allow (encourage) speedy resolution with the provision that anything short of termination was a possible outcome.

"The case, just like a 'regular' 3020-a goes before a single arbitrator and is generally heard within a couple of weeks of the service of the charge. Early on I discovered that the DOE and UFT had entered into a secret unwritten deal that provided a 'boiler plate' last chance agreement. While the amount of the fine was negotiable the form agreement contained a provision which required, without hearing, the termination of the tenured employee without further hearing should the employee be absent and or late more than a certain amount of time provided for in the agreement.

"When I brought this to Weingarten's attention she claimed she had no knowledge about this since NYSUT attorneys were involved. While the agreement that was entered into a case I was involved in was taken back, I found that this agreement in somewhat different form was still being used.

"The T&A hearing basically are designed to determine whether the absence and/or lateness were necessary but allows the principal's own written policy to determine the parameters of 'allowable' absence and/or lateness. Most principals stick to the 10 day rule but there is some difference of opinion as to whether this is reasonable.

"In a properly documented case the arbitrator will levy a small fine (I have not found any of these cases having been dismissed but I have only been involved in a small percentage of them.)

"There is no reason to accept a waiver of future 3020a hearing since this, in effect, puts you back on probation. Good luck and if you have any other question you can email me directly."

That Randi would claim she knows nothing about it since it is NYSUT (she is a VP of NYSUT) is not surprising of the UFT abdication of responsibility. I don't buy it.

I received another email from a source with a contact on the inside who said Randi wants to help get rid of "bad" teachers, but to do it "humanely". Jeff's report must be the UFT/DOE humane response. Of course Randi is letting the "bad" teachers be defined by the DOE and the UFT often has the attitude of "guilty until proven innocent," doing the minimal it has to do. So a teacher who has to take lots of days off due to illness or personal issues, has the days saved up in the CAR, but is deemed to be a "bad" teacher.

Norm blogs at http://ednoteson line. blogspot.com/

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