UFT Contract Reactions

UFT Contract Reactions

UFT Contract Reactions

“I believe this is a watershed moment for our school system,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. 

Check your sources!

There are a lot of articles flying around. Everyone needs an angle. Let’s step back a minute and realize that. Maybe that list of 8 things from Buzzfeed isn’t the best way to get in depth analysis. 

Try these instead:

The Chancellor says, “This shows what can happen when we put children at the center of our agenda,” 

“This day is the result of months of collaboration. Our goal was to make this not just a teachers’ contract, but an education contract—and we succeeded. This is a new day for our educators, and for our students and families. And it shows what can happen when we put children at the center of our agenda,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, a lifelong educator.

The UFT calls it “historic.”  “I am proud of our membership and thrilled with this outcome,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The UFT and all other city workers were badly served by the previous mayor. We are entering a new chapter in our school system’s history where educators will have a greater say in school-level decisions.”

Greg Anrig, at the Century Foundation, calls this great news for NYC students, in particular how “those changes are intended to build trust among all the stakeholders in public schools.” 

Wait, everyone’s happy?!

Not quite. 

The MORE Caucus, the “social justice caucus of the left” put this statement out. 

They’re unhappy with the contract for specific policy reasons, including the shorter day for students, and the dealing of the ATR pool, in addition, they don’t think the raise is enough.

And this is from StudentsFirstNY:

“Instead of delivering the real reform that students need, kids got a shorter school day and the return of ineffective teachers from the ATR pool,” said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY. “This squandered opportunity will be a defining legacy of Mayor de Blasio’s term.”

Can I just watch a recap on video about this? 

Yes. Watch the NY1 video report here.

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What are the 6 issues the contract tackles?

Here are 6 issues, including more than one opinion on each, and a link for further reading. 

1. The ATR Pool: 

The Chancellor applauds the control it gives Principals. 

But Principals themselves worry about how realistic this will be to implement.

While on the other side of things, advocates for teachers in the ATR pool say it weakens due process and leaves them open to dismissal without appeal. They fault the union for not sticking up “for all union members.”

For more on the thorny ATR pool issue, see here  

2. Teacher Titles/salary steps

The Chancellor and UFT say this rewards innovative and expert teachers. 

MORE says the contract creates different classes of teachers — different titles, expectations, and pay.

It establishes three new positions that would give teachers additional responsibilities in exchange for extra pay ranging from $7,000 to $20,000. The city will also be able to chose “hard-to-staff” schools that serve low-income communities and where teacher turnover has been high, where teachers will be eligible for $5,000 bonuses.

“We are going to help good educators stay and grow in this profession, and usher real reform that will lift up kids across the whole system,” de Blasio said.

3. Raises/back pay:

MORE says, “not enough.” The raises don’t keep up with inflation, they argue, and are less then other municipal unions got in 2009. Teachers won’t see all of this money until 2020.

Supporters say: fair to teachers without busting the city’s budget.

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4. Health Care:

Still seems unclear what these cuts are.

The City is touting, “more than $1 billion in health care savings.” 


5. New Schools: 

Chancellor: launching up to 200 new Innovation Schools fosters “innovation in the classroom.”

Critics worry that it leaves 10% of schools outside of UFT jurisdiction and creates a breach within the rank and file teachers.

For more on the experimental incubators, see here 

6. Parents / PD:

For teachers, the contract will repurpose time in the workday for training, parent engagement and other professional activities and provide an expanded career ladder. 

For more critiques on reducing small-group instruction time in favor of PD and parent interaction time, see here  

What’s the Mayor saying? 

This is a victory lap for DeBlasio. 

“Now more than ever, education determines a child’s destiny. And that’s why we sought a contract that was first and foremost about transforming public education. We are going to help good educators stay and grow in this profession, and usher real reform that will lift up kids across the whole system. And at the same time, we are securing unprecedented health care savings, which make this a fiscally responsible contract that protects our budgets and our taxpayers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Wait, what about testing??

Glad you asked. You’re very observant.


Beyond the new contract, Chancellor Fariña has also been quietly pursuing a number of complementary changes consistent with what recent research shows about the characteristics of successful schools.

One initiative focuses on making much more constructive use of testing data to identify problems that require attention, adjustments, and additional support—for both students and teachers—rather than just handing out sanctions and rewards. In school districts showing improved results over time, administrators and teachers monitor data to check whether lesson plans are sinking in. When the evidence indicates a particular student or teacher is struggling, they receive more help—not the threat of negative consequences that drives the incentive-focused reform movement. More here

Further Reading? 

The Chalkbeat blog takes these issues on here 

There has been a strong “vote no” campaign driven by MORE and groups like it. For their statement on next steps, see here 

For a “reluctant yes” point of view, read this OP-ED. April Rose is a third-grade teacher at P.S. 132 and member of Educators for Excellence – New York.  

She says: “So as I vote yes, it’s with the understanding that this contract isn’t perfect — it’s just the beginning of an effort to get one that is.”

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