Sunday, October 31, 2021

BREAKING!! Draft Joint Announcement of Anti-Unity Caucuses

The rumors are true. There is a coalition forming to take on Unity in next year's UFT elections. The details are being worked out. Nothing is official yet, but Solidarity, New Action, ICE, Educators of NYC, Retired Advocate, and MORE are in negotiations and discussions. It's still wait and see but one never knows. 

That being said, The Crack Team has received a copy of the joint statement draft put out by all parties involved. I am publishing it on these pages without editorializing, commenting, or making suggestions. However, anyone who is reading this is free to to add their two cents in the comments section and should feel assured that the comments will at the very least be read by all the caucuses. There is a lot that an be agreed on I am sure, And the disagreements can surely be turned into agreements. Please let the ideas flow

The Joint Announcement:

Are you feeling overworked and underappreciated?

Are you angry about a failed pandemic response that closed schools too late, and has failed to protect health and safety as we returned to work?

Are you upset that your union is complicit in so many of these dangerous decisions?  

Are you wishing there were more counselors, teachers, social workers, librarians, related service providers, and  just educators altogether?

Are you angry that the union instead settled for modest influxes of funds that can’t be spent on hiring long-term non unionized employees?

Are you angry about all the backroom deals, givebacks, and weakness on school segregation, healthcare, and standardized testing?

What about failing to file any grievances from rank-and-file members for almost 18 months while our rights, health, safety, pay, and overall power and respect in schools were under attack by a school bureaucracy that constantly disrespects the New York City community?

Do you wish our union would actually listen to us and organize us towards acting for change? It’s been proven to work in LA, Chicago, West Virginia, and many more regions. The opposite approach has been followed by our current union leaders. This spring, we have a choice for what union we can have.

We don’t want to settle anymore. Back to normal won’t be good enough. It never was good enough.

This spring, vote for A Better Union [placeholder phrase- Our UFT can do more and be better.].

We stand for a new union leadership that reverses the damage done by our current leadership and charts a new path forward. We stand for………

  1. PROTECTIONS FOR EDUCATORS: Approximately 40% of new teachers leave within their first few years. Many of these teachers reach out to use and explain that they are being discontinued or are resigning because of the toxic work environments in their schools. If a young teacher is able to make it to tenure by “escaping” to a different school, often their probation is extended an extra year or too. Unity allowed the DOE to extend tenure to four years with extensions, if desired by principals. We need to bring back the three-year probationary period for all teachers. Unity has allowed pensions to be weakened through a 62 retirement age and continual staff contributions (Tier 6). We will support better pensions by restoring 30 year and age 55 retirements, with ten year vesting and an end to staff contributions at that time.
  2. LOWERED CLASS SIZES: NYC public schools are fully funded and there is no reason why schools cannot earmark funds to reduce class sizes for the 2021-22 School Year. The City Council is proposing a bill that would reduce class size in schools starting in 2022 and continuing gradually over three more years.
  3. ANTI-PRIVATIZATION (REGARDING HEALTH CARE AND CHARTERS): No private businesses or profit-motives in our schools, our union, or our benefits.
  4. A MILITANT UNION- Taylor Law is contrary to Human Rights Law. We need a union who will empower its members by adding back the 'strike power,' which has been used successfully by educators in many other cities/states, by fighting to amend the Taylor Law.
  5. RESPECT: Fair pay for all underpaid educators, including but not limited to paraprofessionals, school secretaries, and therapists. Hire more full-time classroom teachers and school counselors, instead of funding long-time substitute positions and allowing corporate outsourcing of related services. Full benefits and protections for all UFT members. Restore the right to grieve letters in the file and add a victim-centered definition of harassment to the contract. Add protections against retaliatory observations. Restore the culture of educators being able to apply for and receive sabbaticals and realistically expecting to be approved.
  6. STAFF AND SUPPORT: More counselors and social workers, teachers and librarians, therapists and secretaries. These must be negotiated into our contract and made part of state law via caseload and class size caps, through concerted and aggressive action with statewide coalitions.
  7. EMPOWERMENT: More emphasis on rank-and-file organizing in chapters and districts that focuses on knowing the contract and fighting for stronger contracts. No more top-down placating in our union. We want cuts to the salaries of upper management union bureaucrats and we want our dues, COPE dollars [a]and power reinjected into organizing rank-and-file members and chapters.
  8. AUTONOMY AND EQUITY: End mayoral control. More worker control in schools and community control of the city school districts. Work with city and state communities, families, parents, and students to bargain for the common good. End school admissions segregation and standardized tests now. End the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City. Teachers should have control over their own curriculum and be given resources to make liberatory lessons that center student experience and provide culturally relevant and real-world context for the skills and knowledge they are learning. Fight for oversight powers, instead of just consultative tasks, to C30 committees and to make district executive positions elected by communities. Encourage more informal peer-to-peer classroom visits and lower the amount of evaluative classroom observations.
  9. HEALTH AND SAFETY: Our union and city both failed us during this pandemic. Health and safety must be priorities permanently going forward. No more givebacks on healthcare and safety protocols. We want stronger contractual enforcement tools and more nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff and resources to establish the 21st century schools we need, green-friendly and free of lead, asbestos, and other contaminants. These are our schools and we won’t let learning take place in dangerous conditions ever again.  

Educators of New York City: Let’s make a change in our union leadership. This spring, vote for A Better Union [placeholder phrase].

[a]This is money specifically set aside to give the UFT some political clout via endorsing candidates.  Are you suggesting we get out of politics all together and never endorse political candidates?  That may make us less appealing to those politicians who hold sway over educational policy in the city.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Widgets at the Speed Racer School Elementary School...

 From the files of "This Shit Can't Be Made Up," comes another dark tale. 

This is a story is true. The Crack Team receive this story from an SBSB groupie. Names have been changed as well as anything that can be identifiable .

Trixie started her first day at the Speed Racer School Elementary School. She was informed that she would be the widget teacher. She was surprised. She was told that she came very recommended as she is a known widget expert. 

She was assigned to the widget room and spent a week cleaning up and putting away excess widgets. Things were going well. She had yet to be assigned a program. She was told it would take a few weeks due to the disarray the widget room is in. But Trixie was cool with that. He was looking forward to doing innovative things with the students and widgets. 

Days turned into weeks and no program. The widgets were gathering dust. The students were missing out. What was going on?

Trixie soon found out. She found out on a Tuesday that she would be teaching something that she had never taught before; nuclear fission. But not to worry she was told, there is a curriculum and she will have three days (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday). The curriculum will be forthcoming.

Well, Wednesday forthcame and went. Even though Trixie inquired as to the whereabouts of the supposed forthcoming curricula. Good thing Trixie memorialized the inquisition. But nothing forthcame on Wednesday.

Thursday? Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. That's not really true. Something came, not the entire curriculum, but a teeny, tiny bit about 1:30 in the afternoon. That's about 70 minutes before dismissal. 

The next day the rest of the curricula came forth and Trixie asked for the three full days that she was promised. She wished to familiarize with "Teaching Nuclear Fission to Grades K-2." She was told no. 

Two weeks go by, and Trixie is slowly getting comfortable. But the comfort was not to last.

On a Thursday, at 1:30 PM, Trixie was told she would teach nuclear fission to grades 1-3 starting the following day. With that Trixie's schedule was rearranged and the strides she was making with Kindergarten were all for naught. Worse, she would have to learn a higher level of nuclear fission to incorporate 3rd grade. 

Now mind you; Trixie has never ever taught nuclear fission in her life. There has been zero offers of professional development and zero offers of meeting with coaches. Worse, when Trixie asked for a demo lesson the person she asked refused to do it. 

Trixie left that day and reached out the one person, more than The Crack Team, she could count on. As this other person has done countless times coming to Trixie for support this time, was not reciprocated. She was flat out refused and given the proverbial double middle finger. This is why Trixie turned to The Crack Team.

The Crack Team shan't turn it's back on a teacher in need as well as wanting to publicize any teachers plight. This shit wouldn't happen in a suburban school or a school district run by grown ups. 

Only in the New York City Department of Education, does chaos continuously reign and is the norm. Kids first? It's all bullshit.  Where are Spritel and Chimp-Chimp to to save the day for Trixie?

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Mental Health Blues

 Tomorrow is seven weeks since school began and being back in a building for the first time in 18  months (Not counting the 29 days this past summer). Tomorrow we start, or have we already. start checking on students mental health? What about teachers mental health? Mulgrew is going to Impact Bargaining. Again. Too many questions on the quiz.

For those 18 months I missed my routine. Leaving my house early, getting my sausage burrito and black coffee, looking for parking, the whole shebang. It's good in a way not to be home every day. 

What do I miss? The ease. The ease of classroom management there was for 18 months. No ticky tack little BS to deal with. 

So on that spirit, what are some things we as professionals might  be dealing with? Got to nip these things in the bud or it'll really manifest when these students are adults.

For instance; no whining about being first. First on line. First to the bathroom. First to lunch. First, first, first. I can understand why the students we work with want to be first, but hopefully they will and should outgrow such pettiness when they get older. It's sad to see an adult who insists on being first. 

The meltdowns are back. There weren't any meltdowns to deal with virtually. The students were at home and weren't in the same physical space as students and/or teachers. Now, with the slightest provocation there is a meltdown. I can understand why a student will meltdown, I empathize with a student that does. I am there for that student. They should and will get over reacting when something doesn't go their way when they get older. It's pathetic to see an adult act in the same manner. 

The lying is back. I understand why students lie. They feel inadequate about who and what they are as well as what they have. They need to make themselves feel bigger. They'll grow out of it when they get older. It's sad to see an adult who still hasn't figured it out yet.

The lack of empathy is back. The ability for a student to put themselves in somebody's shoes, to understand how another person feels. Social interaction has been missing for 18 months. But the students will come around. We have great students in my school and across the city. Will they still be like this when there are adults? Hopefully not. 

Most of all I understand the students feeling a sense, as well as a fear, of abandonment. Not just with everything that has gone on with their lives the last 18 months but just being a child with so much uncertainty. Abandonment can suck, and sometimes it can manifest itself in a self fulfilling prophecy when the students get to adulthood. 

Let's hope that the DOE's 43 question mental health check finds out sooner, rather than later, what might happen down the road.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Retirees Being Swindled By UFT With Medicare Advantage Rollout

 I haven't really been paying too much attention to the change over, as well as the fight over, the switch for retirees from Medicare to the new Medicare Advantage. I've basically reduced myself to reading both James Eterno's blog and Norm Scott's blog for great information. I'm also getting some information from my step-mom who is a retired CSA member. She's not craxy about my proclivity for rabble rousing so she doesn't share much with me. 

Heck, this is going to effect me in 6 1/2 years, and I should pay more attention. From what I have read I don't like the co-payments, the referrals, and more importantly the "Trust us, it's going to be great" rhetoric coming from Mulgrew. But one thing really is bugging me.

What's the rush to sign everyone up by October 31? 

To the best of my recollection, the deal was done around July, maybe a little sooner (Please correct me if I'm incorrect). As far as I can tell, retirees are going into this blindly. They don't know which doctors, which hospitals or any other providers will be available. All they get is: "Trust us, it's going to be great."

Which brings me to two personal stories. In 1995 when I started with the DOE, I signed up with Physician Health Services. The only reason I signed up for PHS was all of our doctors were on it. I paid for it, unlike GHI which then and now is free. But eventually GHI got more of our doctors on it and we went to GHI. The key was doctors, a wide selection of doctors, and hospitals and providers.

Just recently I was looking at changing out from our top notch, world renowned UFT dental plan (SARCASM). I wanted to switch to the DENTCARE HMO. I researched it and found that not only are there very few providers, but the customer service sucks as well. It wasn't worth it. 

So, back to the Medicare Advantage. Retirees are walking blind into higgedly piggdly of a plan. There is not a list of doctors and providers. No one knows if their doctors that they have had a relationship with for years will be on this plan. No one knows if God forbid they are in treatment for a chronic condition they will be able to continue receiving the same treatment. This is where the UFT and other unions screwed up.

Why the rush? If as Mulgrew claims, "Trust us, it's going to be great," why not how all how great it is. This implementation should have started with NEXT October of 2022 for the sign ins or sign outs. This way, an educated choice of knowing ALL the providers will give those a basis to make a choice.

And beforehand why not have a true year to test out the new Medicare Advantage program. Incentivize retirees to sign up now in October 2021 and this way the kinks can and will be worked out. This way when others start opting in or out in October 2022 not one retiree will be going into this blind. 

Let's not forget the retirees who live where there re a dearth of providers. What of the retiree who has retired to North Dakota? Or the Alaska? What about where there are plenty of providers such as Florida but very few providers will be on the Medicare Advantage. Would the retiree who lives in Tampa have to schlep across the state to West Palm Beach for a prostate exam?

Something smells fishy here. This rush to get everyone in just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, there are plenty of retirees who can afford the out of pocket expense of paying into regular Medicare, but there are plenty of others who can't. And we are only stronger as people, as teachers, as retirees, and as UFT members as our weakest link. These are the people we should fight for. 

The UFT rammed this through. This should have been better explained and had much more input from retirees. This change should have been voted on as a whole by the union. Too often this happens. That some change is just shoved down our throats which the very few decide for several hundred thousand. 

Too bad chapter elections have come and gone. It's time to vote out the leadership of the retiree's chapter. Perhaps a recall is due?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Riddle Me This: When is an ATR Still an ATR?

 Back in June or late May we, and I mean we as ATR's, were told that the there was an agreement that the ATR caste system was no more. That we would be placed in the schools were were in last year and that was that. 

Obviously that for that didn't happen. I wasn't placed in the school I was in last year. I made darn sure. But I and others were still told that even if that happens, "you will be PERMANENTLY to a school." On these pages in June it was written about (Here and here). It was over. ATR's would be permanent and not feel like an outsider anymore. We will be on organization sheets. Be invited to holiday parties. Have mailboxes. Be on the the email blasts. And, most importantly, the Sunshine Club will remember our birthdays.

So why then am I still able to get into Open Market or the Excessed whatever it's called from September through April? Wanna see?


Why am I still considered "excessed"? I thought I was permanent. My time card says, "ATR." I'm not on the organization sheet. I don't even have a place for my stuff. And worse, the Sunshine Club hasn't asked me for $20.

How many ATRs are still the same predicament as I? Are some ATRs more equal than other ATRs? I do understand that to a point. Some are ATRs for no reason of their own. Some, and I admit to being one, are ATRs for being naughty. 

Oh, and we were told there would be zero rotations. I already know of someone who has been rotated. 

Sure would be swell to know what really is going on. 



Sunday, October 3, 2021

Stephanie Edmonds Sees Judaism as Something That Serves Her

 I am so happy I heard about Stephanie Edmond's attention seeking interview on CNN after it had aired. I would've reacted like Luke Fuchs. Fortunately, I watched the video whilst on the bike at Planet Fitness. However, I did scream out, "What a fucking idiot!" 

One thing she has said (In addition to the myriad of whacky things she has blabbered) when asked by CNN's Alisyn Camerota is if she had "taught her final class," Stephanie replied...

 "I just finished a class. I still have one more"

Let's get this straight. Stephanie was being interviewed in her classroom, during her prep, while still on the clock? This is allowable? I recall back in 2012 when admins were trying to find out if I was blogging during the school day. Someone thought they could get me for stealing time. What should it be called what Stephanie did? Prep time is for PREPARING. Not for the flowing of crocodile tears on CNN. 

At :45 Stephanie claims that...

 "she has a deeply held religious objection that this goes against my faith. Betrayal of my faith in God and for that reason I decided not to (get vaccinated)"

I've been Jewish since day I was born. I can't think of anywhere in Judaism where it says thou shalt not receive COVID-19 vaccine. Let's see what Chabad has to say. One thing that stands out is...

"Assuming that vaccinating when there is a high risk of catching a disease is similar to fleeing from an epidemic, then it’s mandatory for you to do it, and others can be compelled to do so as well."

We here at SBSB would all bet our collective salaries that Setphanie's son has had all his MANDATORY vaccinations to enter school. We would also hazard to be that Stephanie does not keep kosher. She enjoys mixing meat with dairy. She doesn't honor Shabbas (As we can see from her prolific tweeting from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) She enjoys shrimp on the barbie and doesn't have separate plates and stove for Passover. In other words, Stephanie picks and chooses what she wants to follow in Judaism as a matter of convenience when it suits her needs. 

The Crack Team has since learned that Stephanie did put in for a religious objection accommodation to get vaccinated and was shot down. It is being appealed and it is pretty safe to say that she'll be shot down again. 

Growing up privileged in Fairfield County and attending an exclusive boarding school Stephanie has probably experienced entitlement. That daddy has always given to her what she wants when she wants it. That is not how the real world works. 

Camerota finally asks at 1:34 what we here at SBSB have been asking, "Where in Judaism does it say that you can't be vaccinated?" 

Stephanie's reply...

"Judaism is not a monolith, like all religions(WTF?) I'm a history teacher. Even a basic look at history will show us that people of the same religious fate do not always agree."

Yes, that is true. I agree. Yes, there are many edicts, laws from all religions that its adherents don't follow.  But again, there is nothing in Jewish law against vaccine or MANDATED VACCINES!

"And while in Judaism there is no specific tenant"

And you wonder why she got denied her accommodation. SHE JUST ADMITTED SHE'S FULL OF SHIT!

"We can look to it (Judaism) for guidance."

Again, there is nothing in Judaism about Vaccines!!!!!!

"This is the decision I have come to between me and God"


She starts to shed the crocodile tears about leaving. Blah, blah, she's crying about leaving her students. Well, if her students were so important she would sacrifice her well being for them. She would have risked everything for her students. But she hasn't. In fact one member of The Crack Team believes that she is vaxxed. And I believe that member of The Crack Team is correct.

Why? She wants to be a martyr. She is building her brand. She considers herself an "educelebrity." She does not care about her students, her school, nor the community. Whatever she can do to promote herself is all that matters.

To use Judaism as a crutch and worse to misinterpret what Jewish law says is just vile. She is the stereotype of Jews that got 6 million of us slaughtered.  I wish I could denounce my Judaism. I am far from a perfect Jew but I try. I don't use it as a crutch or use it for ill gotten means. 

I feel so filthy right now having listened to this woman that I need to find myself a Mikveh. 

But seriously. Stephanie. Please. Seek help.