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Saturday, September 2, 2023

Columbia University's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is dissolved and the New Advancing Literacy Unit Takes Its Place

Teachers for many years have criticized the reading program forced upon them by the Department of Education.

The reading program was created by Lucy Calkins and released through the prestigious Teacher's College at Columbia University, and all schools had to follow it's prescribed rules. The politics of education is very powerful. Many were unhappy about this.

See here:

My opinion - it's about time!

The news is that Calkins is leaving Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project and is starting a new organization called "Mossflower Reading and Writing Project at

It will be interesting to see the futures of vs Advancing Literacy as both move forward in 2023-2024. Follow the money.

just sayin'.....

Literacy affects every part of a student’s life and life chances. Communities with high levels of literacy experience less poverty, are healthier, and have greater access to their civil rights and to full participation in our democracy. 

Teachers College has a deep bench of scholars studying literacy from multiple angles using different approaches (curriculum and teaching, special education, inclusion, human development, neuroscience). And throughout the College’s academic programs and research agenda, there is an unwavering commitment to inclusion — among students, faculty and staff on campus and in our scholarship. TC faculty, students and staff are national leaders in preparing teachers to support diverse classrooms and are engaged in integrative research, both translational and basic, that is contextualized with respect to marginalized communities across race, culture, ethnicity, language and neurodiversity.

This diversity of approaches, and TC’s commitment to supporting teachers and schools in different ways (e.g. research, academic programs, professional learning communities and development) has served the College well, but moving forward, TC wants to foster more conversations and collaboration among different evidence-based approaches to literacy, and ensure our programs are aligned with the needs of teachers and school districts looking to partner.

To support this objective, the work of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) and its staff will transition to an Advancing Literacy unit within TC’s Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) division for the 2023-2024 year, a return to its original professional development roots. The entity TCRWP, founded in 1981, will be dissolved as part of this shift. TC is working to align the work of TC staff with the needs of school districts and changes in reading curriculum locally and nationwide.

Lucy Calkins

For many years, TCRWP’s founding director Lucy Calkins led efforts to support teachers as they develop students as readers and writers. Dr. Calkins has stepped down as Director of the Reading and Writing Project. She is Robinson Professor in Children's Literature at Teachers College, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, on sabbatical during the 2023-2024 academic year.

“Many teachers credit TCRWP for creating communities of practice where teachers gain valuable resources and support,” says KerryAnn O’Meara, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost and Dean of the College. “TC is grateful to Dr. Calkins for her service.”

Dr. Calkins shares her expertise as a consultant through her own LLC. Teachers College is not involved in the operations or provision of services provided by Dr. Calkins in her LLC.

As TCRWP transitions to work as part of the College’s Continuing Professional Studies division during the 2023-2024 academic year, Mary Ehrenworth, Beth Neville and Emily Butler Smith — longtime members of the TCRWP staff — will provide leadership. 

The new Advancing Literacy unit will offer a variety of curricular support. Across the U.S., some school districts use the Units of Study curriculum and need professional development to support their teachers. Other school districts around the country use different curricula and are looking for professional development. TC staff are poised and ready to support teachers and school districts using different curricula and approaches. Advancing Literacy staff will be enhanced by their placement in CPS, which offers many dynamic noncredit courses and other professional development opportunities annually for thousands of teachers in NYC and beyond — including in areas such as inclusion, education leadership, digital learning and literacy. 

As the College looks towards the future, Provost O’Meara highlighted three reasons she is excited about the ways in which Teachers College can advance literacy and reading instruction moving forward. 

First, the College can learn and support students and teachers by listening to its partners. TC has many well-established relationships with NYC school-district personnel, teachers and leaders through decades of work together across professional development programs — not only in reading but in teaching about inclusive classrooms, coaching for leaders and early career teachers, arts education, classroom technology, climate change, nutrition and school psychology, among many others. 

“As we move forward to align our professional development programs with the greatest needs of our school partners, teachers and community organizations, we will be building from these relationships, and listening to our teachers, and school districts. TCRWP created some powerful communities of practice and those communities of teachers can still find connection in the work of the broadened Advancing Literacy unit,” says Provost O’Meara. 

Second, TC will ensure that its professional development programs are informed by the latest research and evidence and that the College continually finds new ways to translate faculty scholarship into timely assessments, interventions, and research-based practices. Provost O’Meara notes several examples of this through certificate programs, coaching and symposiums — and will be able to report more on that soon.

Third, the national conversation about literacy must include the experiences of students who are multilingual, are enrolled in special education programs, and live in high-poverty and marginalized communities. “TC’s expertise in centering inclusion and equity is unmatched and distinct. Moving forward, we need to integrate these three strengths to make a greater impact in literacy development, and we look forward to sharing our next steps to do so soon.”

More information about the Advancing Literacy Network will be forthcoming. 

After Demanding a Second Vote, UFT President Michael Mulgrew Gets The OT-PT Contract Ratified

Mike Mulgrew

Mike Mulgrew, President of the UFT, did not like the fact that in a vote on a tentative new contract between the City of New York and the bargaining unit which includes Occupational and physical therapists as well as other professional groupings, this unit voted no. Nurses and audiologists, also in the unit, voted yes.

What did Mulgrew do?  Rather than go back to the negotiating table, he demanded that the unit voting no had a revote. No other members had to vote again. 

Guess what? Mike got the votes he needed the second time around to ratify the new contract he wanted.

Gosh, I wonder how that happened? 

This is the UFT.

by Cayla Bamberger, NY Daily News, August 31, 2023

A chapter of school therapists that was directed to revote on a tentative contract agreement has approved the deal amid criticism the process was anti-democratic.

The contract between the United Federation of Teachers and the city was ratified by 89% of the more than 2,000 occupational and physical therapists who cast ballots, according to the tally of the revote by the independent American Arbitration Association.

“I want to thank the [occupational and physical therapists] who participated in the union meetings this summer to discuss your contract,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in an email Wednesday to members. “The challenge we faced helped build a stronger union.”

Earlier this summer, the bargaining unit that included occupational and physical therapists as well as other professional groupings turned down the agreement. More than two-thirds of therapists who cast ballots rejected the deal, with many citing pay concerns. Others in the unit, including nurses and audiologists, voted it through, the initial tally showed.

Rather than go back to the negotiating table, the UFT split the therapists from the rest of their bargaining unit and directed them to revote. No other members had to vote again.

Mulgrew in announcing the revote cited an “outpouring of opinion” on all sides of the arguments. The UFT received just under 1,500 emails from members in the bargaining unit asking for a revote, according to a spokeswoman for the union.

But the directive was met with swift backlash from chapter leadership, prompting the resignation of three chapter executive board members, including chapter leader Melissa Williams.

Ballots were mailed on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and due on Tuesday, according to the UFT. They were counted on Wednesday.

Roughly 450 more ballots were returned in the second vote than during the initial round, according to figures reviewed by The News. The number of votes against the deal dwindled the second time around from 1,074 to 229, a memo from the UFT showed Thursday.

The initial vote to reject the contract was the second time in a row that therapists turned down the first offer from the city. In 2018, union reps went back into negotiations with city labor officials — a step that many therapists who voted no expected to happen again.

Vice chair of physical therapists Aideen Kwan Dela Cruz told The News she was relieved to no longer be labeled as a “troublemaker,” but saddened to miss out on pay parity and respect.

“I understand why people ratified this contract as they do not see how they can change the union leadership’s stance on not supporting our chapter’s demands,” she said. “It is disheartening that we pay union dues to a union who sides with the employer and not the paying members.”

The new contract boosts pay 17.58% to 20.42% compounded over the five years of the agreement according to the UFT. It dates back retroactively to last September, and comes with retroactive payments and a $3,000 ratification bonus.

By the end of the contract, a therapist with a master’s degree and a decade of experience would max out at a $94,804 annual salary, or approximately $20,000 less per year than a teacher with the same educational attainment and longevity, according to an analysis of salary schedules.

An internal survey by the UFT chapter showed more than two-thirds of members currently have a “side-gig,” including part-time jobs and contract work, to supplement their work as full-time school therapists.

Therapists were told they could voluntarily work an extra session at 12.5% of their daily rate to earn more money. But the option was largely unpopular as it would entail working longer hours, only to make less than similarly educated teachers.

Mulgrew in the Wednesday email to school therapists touted that the deal “increases control over how you spend your workday.”

Mimi Greenberg, an occupational therapist on the contract negotiation committee, said the chapter only found out about the option once it was already in the tentative agreement with the city.

Critics of the deal also argue that therapists’ necessary degrees and certifications make for some of the biggest student loan burdens in the city’s public school system.

“It is a true shame that union share tactics, and whatever else drove the vote, won out over personal integrity and democracy,” said Greenberg. “I consider this a very sad experience.”