The UNITY/UFT caucus has been the foundation of our union for over 60 years, and we proudly bear the responsibility for being the majority voice. UNITY/UFT never stops advocating and fighting for our members, improving our working conditions for the betterment of our schools and students. This is exemplified by our current contract which, one year in, has demonstrated its value by enabling VOICE, SUPPORT, RESPECT and true EMPOWERMENT.
As you know, under the leadership of UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew, we have negotiated many tools to assist us in our roles as educators. Among them are school-based professional development committees, standards for paperwork reduction that eliminate duplicative and unnecessary paperwork (both written and electronic), and, for the first time, a requirement that the DOE provide curriculum to teachers of core subjects. Unfortunately, the DOE has again managed to “muddy the waters” when it comes to these three collectively bargained items.
The Instructional Leadership Framework, or ILF, is a DOE initiative that integrates NYS Standards (“Next Gen”), Culturally Responsive Education, and Advanced Literacy. While we agree with this initiative in concept, we do not agree with the implementation. Our teachers should be exposed to these new standards, as next year our students and our school system will be judged on them. Writing curriculum, bypassing the PD Committee and creating paperwork for the sake of creating paper and work are our new but old fights. How does this help our members, our students, and our schools?
UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew has made it clear that if the DOE can’t or won’t help our students prepare for the Next Generation Standards, then we must do it alone; if the DOE will allow it to fall on the backs of our members, then we must stand firm and demand the support our schools and teachers need. As ridiculous as it sounds, if our employer cannot do this work, then we must lead the charge to help our school system succeed. We have too many enemies waiting and hoping for us to fail in the ever important role of educating our students.
UNITY/UFT believes that failure is not an option. As President Mulgrew stated “. . . if we are challenged with the tasks of working towards a successful school system and ensuring that the DOE does their due diligence in supporting our schools, then we will wholeheartedly rise to that challenge.”