Day Care Advocates Keeping Fighting

By Stephanie West
December 22, 2010

More than a hundred people braved icy weather to protest the City's continued cuts to day care programs and early education centers.

"We are going to continue the fight," said Raglan George, Jr., executive director of Local 1707 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

The protesters marched from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to City Hall, where the crowd was addressed by more than a dozen City Council members and union leaders.

Education advocates demand solutions to overcrowding

CFE-rally-Michael MulgrewDecember 10, 2010
Reprint from, 12/7/10

Leaders of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, joined by UFT President Michael Mulgrew and elected officials, rallied in front of the Tweed courthouse on Dec. 7 to demand solutions to chronic school overcrowding.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which led a 13-year fight for more resources for city schools, released a new report showing that the way that the city counts classroom space in school buildings is seriously flawed. Over the last several years, the Department of Education has added thousands of “available” classrooms to its official count of building capacity – in school buildings that have not expanded.

Local 1707 Members Attend Education Conference at Metropolitan College of New York

Dr. Leonard H. GolubchickBy: Dr. Leonard H. Golubchick
Adjunct Professor of Education, Metropolitan College of New York
Adjunct Professor of Education, Long Island University, Rockland Graduate Center
Adjunct Professor of Education, St John’s University

November 16, 2010

On November 5, 2010 Metropolitan College of New York hosted the conference, “Understanding Factors Affecting the Academic Achievement of Chinese Immigrant and Chinese-American Students”.

The conference was attended by 130 participants including Local 1707 members, government leaders, P-12 Schools, higher education institutions, academia, non-profit organizations and the corporate sector.

Demonstration to Save Day Care December 8th

By Kismet Barksdale
November 16, 2010

Day Care Employees Local 205 and District Council 1707 AFSCME invite you to join them on Wednesday December 8 as they march from Battery Park to City Hall with parents, labor, legislators and advocates to save the 16 centers the Bloomberg Administration has threatened to close in 2011.

If their plans succeed, a total of 53 centers will have been closed by this administration, the largest number of centers closed by any mayoral administration in thirty years.

Guest Article - Green Cleaning at School: New Toolkit for Workers, Schools, and Communities

By Claire Barnett
November 10, 2010

Keeping schools clean is hard work with both ‘elbow grease’ and cleaning products. But unfortunately, in most schools, they are also subjecting themselves—and vulnerable children—to a dangerous mix of toxic chemicals that can cause injury and illnesses. The National Collaborative Work Group on Green Cleaning and Chemical Policy Reform (the Collaborative), a partnership of labor, health, and environment groups, is helping schools nationwide switch to certified green cleaning products: safer, less toxic products that still get the job done very effectively. Certification standards are set to rate products for comprehensive environment and human health protection and ensure the products actually work.


October 12, 2010
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial [TSFFM] organization announced that twenty-three Triangle Scholars have been named for the academic year 2010-11 to receive scholarship grants.  The new class of Triangle Scholars is TSFFM’s largest and brings the total of awards to $264,000 since inception of the program.  The program has served seventy-three individual students and the first in post-graduate study this year.  Eight siblings from four families are also among recipients.

Noteworthy Graduates: Justice Doris Ling-Cohan

New York Teacher Newsletter
September 23, 2010

Photo by Pat Arnow

Justice Doris Ling-Cohan is the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the New York State Supreme Court. Although she grew up in Chinatown, she attended school in Brooklyn, where her father owned a laundry. She attended PS 219 and PS 177, then Bensonhurst’s Seth Low/IS 96, and finally John Dewey HS. She graduated from Dewey in 1972.

In her own words below, as told to staff reporter Ellie Spielberg she describes the importance of her New York City public school education:

UFT and Merrick Charter Resolve Dispute

By Kismet Barksdale
Long Island Editor

September 6, 2010

The United Federation of Teachers and Merrick Charter School have reached an agreement in the case of 11 staff members dismissed this summer by the school.  The UFT charged that Merrick had fired the workers – who make up approximately one-third of the professional staff of the school -- for union activity.  The union had asked the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to order Merrick to rehire the fired staffers.

Under the terms of the agreement the UFT obtained the reinstatement of the teachers who wished to return to Merrick this fall.  They will be reinstated at their old salaries.  Other teachers and staff have had their cases resolved to their satisfaction.  Further details of the settlement remain confidential.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said:  “Teachers have a right to organize and bargain collectively, and we are happy to have confirmed that right for Merrick’s staff.”

Statements by Council Members Regarding: Court Ruling on Arizona Immigration Law

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito attending a rally supporting city day care programs with District Council 1707 Executive Director Raglan George
Statement from Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Immigration Committee:
"I support the federal judge's decision to block key elements of Arizona's immigration law from going into effect because these types of draconian measures against our immigrant population are totally unacceptable. It is our duty and our obligation as people, and as citizens of the United States to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected and that everyone is protected under the law. What these provisions of the Arizona law were essentially going to do is allow the police to use racial profiling to enforce the law and that is wrong and unconstitutional.  I'm glad that the judge had the good sense to prevent this from happening."
Statement from Council Member Julissa Ferreras:
“I commend Judge Boltonc for rejecting Arizona’s unjust law, and thank Attorney General Holder, a son of East Elmhurst, Queens, for his leadership and action in this case.  We now need to move ahead towards comprehensive reform of our broken system.  Millions of immigrants must be allowed to attain legal status.”
Statement from Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito:

Early childhood classrooms must be protected

By Karen Alford


Study after study confirms what we already know: early childhood education is the foundation for future academic success. It can mitigate the disadvantages that many youngsters start their lives with and put them on the path of a sound education and bright future.

Unfortunately, we are now looking at cuts to both city and state budgets. While we don’t know the exact numbers, we hear that 6,400 teachers are in danger of being cut in the mayor’s latest budget proposal.

We would surely lose the rich early childhood curriculum that we know is essential, only to see it replaced by bare-bones, test-driven approach for even the youngest learners and class sizes that dictate management over individual attention. After-school and other “extras” would also be eliminated.

City’s Plan to Revamp Day Care Gets Panned

By Micah Landau

May 20, 2010

The Administration for Children’s Services came under heavy fire from City Council members and labor leaders at an April 28 oversight hearing on the agency’s proposal to restructure subsidized child care in New York.

According to the testimony of agency Commissioner John Mattingly, the purpose of the restructuring is to “raise educational standards, increase family supports and strengthen professional development for teachers.”

However, labor leaders such as Tammie Miller, chapter chair for the UFT’s 28,000 family child care providers, panned the plan.

Miller was especially upset that neither she nor leaders from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators or District Council 1707 were consulted during the plan’s creation — despite the impact its implementation would have on their members.

“None of us was anywhere near when this discussion happened,” Miller said. “We weren’t invited to the table.”

BALCONY: A Contract is a Contract is a Contract! Governor Paterson Must Not Act Unilaterally in Budget Battle


The future of New York State demands that a solid foundation of respect exist between state government and its workforce. That respect cannot exist if the public and private sector workers who retain state contracts cannot count on those contracts being honored.

BALCONY ( understands the gravity of the budget deficit facing New York State and that it must be addressed. However, for Governor Paterson to unilaterally abrogate contract law is not only an inappropriate means of trying to balance the budget it also sets a perilous precedent that the New York State government cannot be taken at its word.

Additionally, it sours the dialogue between the State and labor at a crucial juncture when consensus and not divisiveness is necessary to prevent the fiscal crisis from deepening while New Yorkers wait for a finalized budget. We must find common ground.

Whatever his reasons, Governor Paterson’s decision to bypass the Legislature and withhold $2.1 billion from school districts, his decision to withhold scheduled and collectively bargained pay raises from state employees, and his decision to freeze all bridge and road construction, is the wrong message to New Yorkers. Essentially, these cuts indicate that the Governor believes that progress and safety, as well as New Yorker’s education and health, are less important than protecting Wall Street bonuses.

City Hall Protest in Lead Up to Brooklyn Bridge March

by Summer Brennan

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall to protest the proposed closing of 16 Child Care Centers in New York City, District 27 Councilman Leroy Comrie urged Mayor Bloomberg not to make the cuts.

“This administration is doing what it can to eliminate safe child care by focusing on homecare providers in unsafe homes,” Mr. Comrie said. “Whereas these centers offer safe environments and well-trained staff that have been properly vetted.”

Executive Director of CD 1707 Raglan George called the move to close the centers “nothing but union busting”.

“This move is geared to destroy unions, but workers will continue to fight,” he said.


bill and mike

By: Summer Brennan

Fifty years ago, teachers in New York City’s public schools didn’t have the kind of support and respect they have today. Before the creation of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in March 1960, the system’s structure and support were haphazard at best, and concepts such as class-size limits and career ladders were only pipe dreams. A patchwork of more than 100 different and often competing organizations were available for educators to join, but there was no one true voice and advocate for students and teachers.

That all changed, thanks to the grit and determination of a small group of visionaries who believed that educators and their students were being shortchanged and did something about it. Together, they created the UFT.

Protest City’s Decision to Close Day Care Centers

By: Summer Brennan
District Council 1707 leaders and their members, daycare workers, and concerned parents met on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, March 3, to protest the decision by the Administration for Children’s Services to close 16 city-funded day care centers. Of the centers set to close, eleven are in Brooklyn, three are in Queens, and two are in Manhattan.
“We will continue to fight,” said Councilwoman Annabel Parma. “We are passionate about making sure the day cares stay open. They allow families to work, and to stay in communities. “She said the centers were a “safe haven” for children, and must not be closed under any circumstances.

DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George Jr. urged the City Council to keep the centers open for the children’s’ sake, as well as the parent’s. “Families need these centers to go to work. Closing them will put people out of work,” he said. “The next step will be to close the Head Start programs.”

As New York Moves to Test for PCB's, Healthy Schools Network Releases New National Report

Ms. Claire Barnett, Executive Director, The Healthy Schools Network

As New York City broke new ground in announcing a testing program to measure levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) in caulk found on school windows, the Healthy Schools Network released a new report on the state of toxins in schools, "Sick Schools 2009."  Claire Barnett, Healthy Schools' Executive Director, welcomed the PCB initiative but said that it doesn't go far enough.  "EPA regulates PCBs, and in that role is required to act," she told Labor Press. 

 "This week's announcement of a study agreed to by NYC and EPA will look only at caulk in schools as potential sources, not at other PCB sources, and not at caulk in other large buildings where it is also present.  So it is a first step.  Put this in context of the Manhattan Boro President's report on long standing building violations which do not take toxics into effect, and it is easy to see that we need to pay lots more attention to the indoor environments where children spend 90% of their time."  Unhealthy schools, Barnett says, are a public health and educational crisis.  More than 60% of all school children suffer poor health, more absenteeism and lower test scores due solely to the conditions of their schools.  Across the country, advocates have found, schools assault children and staff with polluted air, hazardous chemicals, and other threats that affect their health, learning, and productivity.  The crisis continues even though a growing body of published science shows the dire effects of unhealthy facilities and recommends ways to make them healthier.  Scattered states and districts are making progress, but that’s not enough.  Sick schools are a national emergency that demands a broad, national solution. 

Released by the National Coalition for Healthier Schools and coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, "Sick Schools 2009" assesses state by state school conditions and hones in on policies in 20 states and the District of Columbia.  No other source at the state or federal level contains this wealth of data on state capacity and children at risk —- not even the federal agencies.  Fewer than half the states have any capacity to address needs.  Alone among the federal agencies, EPA has developed the expertise and staffing to make school environments healthier.  It also is authorized to write federal guidelines on school environments for the states, as well as a newly appointed Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson committed to children’s environmental health. But Congress continues to stint on funding EPA’s voluntary programs, such as those to protect children and to improve school facilities.  Sick Schools makes an eloquent, irrefutable case for supporting EPA’s child health programs and addressing long-ignored environmental health issues at schools.

Read the report at:

Photo: Claire L. Barnett, MBA, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc.


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