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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mike Mulgrew and Class Size

On May 14, 2012, UFT President spoke to New York City Council about the DOE continuing to report on class sizes throughout NYC. 

I have a question: If Mike was really concerned about class sizes, and was not just talking about it, wouldnt he stop the rubber room dumping procedure (which, as we know, did not stop, just was changed to many rooms with a few people rather than alot of people in a few rooms) and, want proper investigations of people to occur before removal from the classroom? And dont forget that the signpost of the harm of this process is the fact that when an employee is targeted for any reason, there is usually no one who knows how to teach the class he or she was removed from, so the kids suffer just as much as the removed person. It would seem to me that any person speaking out about class size would try to change the teacher dump in favor of proper procedures to protect the students in the class from permanent harm by not having a competent teacher taking the removed teacher's place.

How say you, Mike?
Ernest Logan (CSA President), Mike Mulgrew, Mike Mendel, Leroy Barr


Class size and temporary classroom units

Testimony submitted by UFT President Michael Mulgrew to the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission of the New York City Council

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) wishes to thank the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission for the opportunity to share our views on reporting class size and temporary classroom units. We commend your commission for taking the time to scrutinize the demands on the New York City bureaucracy and to seek ways to streamline reporting and make all agencies efficient. While we don’t support exempting the Department of Education (DOE) from reporting scrutiny, the greater priority we believe, is examining the impact of reducing or eliminating critical information that parents use to judge the quality of their children’s education.
We strongly urge this commission and the full New York City Council to maintain the current reporting by the Department of Education (DOE) on class size and transportable classrooms.
Before adopting the mayor’s recommendations to reduce reporting in these areas, we must remember what came before and anticipate the possible outcomes.

Class Size Reporting

Before class size reporting, teachers, parents and the public were without clear information on class sizes by school. The only consistently available data for city schools were derived from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) system-wide averages aggregated by grade only. The city’s education community could not tell how many classes were too large, where the biggest class size problems existed or any pertinent details at the school level. Worse, the data was always two years old — or more.
The City Council’s addition to the New York Charter law in 2005 requiring the DOE to report average class sizes at the school, district and grade level twice a year moved the agency toward greater transparency and enabled parents and advocates to lobby effectively for the needs of their children. The DOE’s development efforts in designing the class size report have largely paid off; the report is extensive, detailed, user friendly and it’s been fine-tuned over time.
Additionally, we need both reports because they reflect two separate student counts — October 31 and January 30. Each report adds unique value to understanding the breadth of the problem with over size classes. This case is best made in viewing high school data. Year-to-year we’ve seen high school class sizes show significant fluctuation between the two counts. If the administration only released the February report for instance, the public would miss the typically larger class sizes in the fall.
Most significantly, using these new reports the Campaign for Fiscal Equity was able to quantify the number of classrooms needed in order to reduce class size in each grade and school to comply with state mandates, and identify where the DOE most needed to add seats. Combined with the School Construction Authority’s Enrollment-Capacity-Utilization Report (The Blue Book), it allowed the public to see in detail where there is available space, and whether new capacity should be added. In addition, it can pinpoint what grade levels, what districts and neighborhoods may require more classrooms.

Temporary and Non-standard Classroom Reporting

The law also requires annual detailed reporting on “temporary and non-standard classroom” space. Temporary in our view, is a misnomer. According to our review of the data, in 2001 3.86% of all public school students in traditional schools elementary through high school were in temporary structures. By 2011 the number had dropped a mere percentage point still leaving 2.86% or 28,605 of our school children trying to learn in structures never meant for long-term use. This translates to a reduction of only about 1,000 children per year back to standard classrooms.
The UFT has received numerous complaints about these trailers and their current conditions — most of them are over 10 years old. The wooden ramps are rotting, the metal siding is coming loose and other deteriorating conditions are developing. In addition, environmental issues have developed in some of the trailers. Providing instruction under sub-standard conditions compromises children’s education. Parents need to know what is going on in their schools and the earlier in the school year, the better.
The administration proffers a modest cost saving as a rationale for eliminating the November class size report and redundancy with the Blue Book as it relates to eliminating the report on temporary classroom space. But what about the cost to children who linger too long in over-size classes or risk hazards in unsuitable space improperly labeled temporary?
In addition, while the class size reporting provides a solid template for public scrutiny, the Blue Book could offer further refinements and more accurate views of capacity and utilization. It is why for instance, as the CFE pointed out in its 2007 report “A Seat of One’s Own,” class size data reports and the Blue Book must be considered together, because changing class size modifies the capacity of a school.” And from its 2010 report “Capacity Counts,” we agree with the CFE’s assessment that “Inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and a lack of transparency have wide and durable repercussions.”
In weighing the benefit to the parents, their children and the public against the negligible savings of some staff time, we believe the balance overwhelming tips toward more comprehensive, accurate reporting at the earliest possible date. Despite its preliminary nature, parents are better able to advocate for their children earlier in the term with the November class size report; and limiting their access to the temporary structures data by eliminating the October report we believe is ill-advised.
We reject the administration’s view that eliminating these reports constitutes progress. To the contrary, it’s a step backwards. We can do better for the children in our public schools. As the administration seeks greater accountability, safeguarding these reports would be a step in the right direction.
Read more: Testimony

On Closing 24 Schools: NY State Supreme Court Judge Lobis Orders Arbitration

Judge urges city, unions into arbitration in turnaround dispute
Posted By Rachel Cromidas On May 16, 2012 @ 7:22 pm In Newsroom | 21 Comments
The first court appearance in the union lawsuit to halt hiring decisions at 24 turnaround schools ended with the judge telling the city and unions to resolve their dispute out of court.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis urged the city and teachers and principals unions to resolve their contractual disputes through arbitration, rather than litigation. If the two sides would agree to let an independent arbitrator hear their case, then she would not need to rule on the unions’ request for an injunction to halt hiring at the schools.
Union and city lawyers both said they wanted to resolve the dispute quickly because schools would be harmed if hiring decisions are not well before the end of the school year.
“If you’re both saying you need the arbitrator as soon as possible, an injunction would not be necessary,” Lobis said. “If what you’re saying is really sincere, then you’ll get it to the arbitrator as quickly as possible.”
After conferring this afternoon, city and union lawyers accepted Lobis’s suggestion. The two sides are meeting tonight to select an arbitrator and meeting dates, with the goal of resolving the legal questions about teacher and principal staffing at the turnaround schools by early June.
If they agree on an arbitrator, the city plans to continue laying the groundwork for rehiring at the schools. But it would hold back from finalizing any personnel decisions until an arbitrator is agreed upon or the matter returns to court.
Still open for dispute is the question of whether there will be one arbitrator to review both the United Federation of Teachers’s case and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators case (the unions’ preference), or if two arbitrators will review each case individually (the city’s preference).
The city and teachers union have not had good luck letting a third party referee unrelated disputes in the recent past. After negotiations over teacher evaluations broke down in December, the union asked for a third party to step in. The city has resisted entering mediation even as the state’s labor relations board has twice ordered a mediator to step in.
A teacher from Long Island City High School who listened in on the hearing said the turnaround schools will be harmed regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome. “It’s like they’re pushing Humpty Dumpty off a wall,” the teacher said. “You will have a lot of trouble putting [the schools] back together again.”

Article printed from GothamSchools:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape:
[2] Principals union chief urges state to reject city’s turnaround bid:
[3] On D.C. stage, Weingarten urges officials to work with unions:
[4] De Blasio urges city not to pass the buck on teacher evaluations:
[5] Turnaround schools’ job postings offer window into city’s plans:

Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape

Responding to a lawsuit filed by the city teachers and principals unions on Monday, the Department of Education pledged today not to make any hiring decisions about 24 schools slated for “turnaround” for at least a week.
Under the turnaround process the city is trying to use, all of the teachers at the schools would be “excessed” and then at least half — but very likely more — would be hired back by a committee of administrators and union representatives. After the city school board approved the turnarounds late last month, the city planned to convene the committees quickly and set them to work.
But under a stipulation agreement registered today in State Supreme Court, the department said it would refrain from telling teachers at the 24 schools that they had been cut loose — or rehired. The committees will begin considering candidates but can make no offers until after a judge rules on the unions’ lawsuit, which charges that the turnaround process violates their contracts with the city.
According to the agreement, the department must respond to the unions’ claims by Friday. Then the unions will respond to the department’s defense by the end of the day on May 15 before the two sides argue their cases before a judge the following day.
A teachers union official said the timeline had been accelerated both because the unions and city wanted the suit resolved quickly and in order to accommodate the schedule of the judge assigned to the case, Joan Lobis. Lobis is the Supreme Court justice who in 2010 ruled in the UFT’s favor in the first round of an ultimately successful lawsuit to halt 19 school closures.
The complete stipulation agreement between the city and the unions is below.
Supreme Court of the State Of New York County of New York Stipulation
Index # 600002/2012
May 8, 2012
Michael Mulgrew et al.v.Board of Education et al. 
It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the below-named attorney(s) as follows:
Parties agree to the following briefing schedule:
1)      Respondents serve response to petition May 11, 2012;
2)      Petitioners respond May 15 (close-of-business);
3)      Oral argument May 16, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Parties agree that pending oral argument May 16, 2012, Respondents (or any member of an 18D committee) will not make or further communicate any hiring decisions in connection with the 24 subject schools, except as provided below.
This includes any decision or communication that any employee represented by UFT or CSA has been excessed or hired.
As to a May 7, 2012 letter, Respondents will use best efforts to ensure no dissemination.
As to John Adams H.S., Respondents may name a proposed new leader for purposes of the 18D committee only.
Judge Joan B. Lobis
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Attorneys for Defendant