October 1, 2016
By Joe Loverde
New York, NY – The UFT is intent this year on enforcing a pair of key provisions from the 2014 contract: to reduce excessive paperwork and to make sure the Department of Education provides all educators in core subjects with appropriate curriculum.
That was the message from UFT President Michael Mulgrew when he met with chapter leaders at the annual citywide chapter leader meeting in Shanker Hall on Sept. 14 to discuss goals for the new school year.
“We are taking direct aim at resolving the paperwork and curriculum issues,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
After going through a checklist of tasks the school-based union reps needed to review as the year got underway, Mulgrew told them the UFT is determined “to set a new tone in every building. We have to be sure that members are getting the respect and support they need to do their jobs.”
Mulgrew said the No. 1 complaint among members is “excessive paperwork, hands down,” yet only four official complaints made it to the central paperwork committee the union and the DOE set up when they negotiated paperwork standards and a procedure to enforce them in 2015. In response, he said, the union has set up a new online reporting form housed in the chapter leader section of its website so chapter leaders can get help combatting unnecessary or redundant paperwork assigned to teachers or any other Department of Education-employed UFT member.
The forms will allow the UFT to document the issues, “and we will leave every case open until it is resolved. This way, we can prove to the DOE when there is a problem.”
Mulgrew noted that Debra Poulos, the former UFT Brooklyn borough representative, has been named the union’s director of contract empowerment, with her initial focus exclusively on paperwork issues.
Mulgrew also reminded chapter leaders that schools are required to provide teachers with appropriate year-long or semester-long curriculum aligned with the state standards in all core subjects (math, social studies, English Language Arts, science and foreign languages).
“We know many principals are not providing it, even though the DOE has posted this curriculum online for schools,” he said.
To document the extent of the problem and to identify schools where principals have not provided teachers with the required curriculum, the union sent every chapter leader a short curriculum survey.
Curriculum is defined as a list of content and topics; scope and sequence; and a list of what students are expected both to know and be able to do after studying each topic. A pacing calendar, a scope and sequence or a unit plan alone does not constitute a curriculum.
“If you haven’t been given a curriculum, you need to file a grievance,” Mulgrew told the chapter leaders.
He also reminded members that being asked to write curriculum is another form of excessive paperwork. “These are things our members are not supposed to do,” he said. “And it takes time away from instruction.”