Unions resist new teacher demands during coronavirus


Ms. Garcia-Jerez’s youngest daughter, Emely, has Down’s syndrome. The hours that Emely and her sister check in online with their teachers and classmates provide Ms. Garcia-Jerez with her only moments of respite from the routine of solo housework and babysitting.

Teaching is “a really great profession,” she said. “It must come from your soul, like doctors. “

New York City may have seen the most radical demonstration of unions pushing the new expectations of teachers.

By the time distance learning began in the country’s largest school district in late March, many of the city’s 75,000 or so teachers were already frustrated with New York leaders, who waited longer than some other major cities to close public schools. Then Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the spring break, which was scheduled to start in early April, will be canceled for state schools. (Many other places have done the opposite, keeping or even extending their breaks.)

The New York teachers ‘union, the United Teachers’ Federation, hoped that educators could still take off for Passover and Good Friday – and was furious when Mayor Bill de Blasio kept them at work for these religious holidays.

“Never once during this crisis did the mayor thank you for your service,” wrote union president Michael Mulgrew in a scathing email to his members. “Instead, it cuts down on your work by describing it only as a vehicle to keep children at home. “

Union officials said they were fighting to keep New York teachers from having to work more in a day than the six hours and 20 minutes set out in their contract. A politically progressive caucus in the union is calling on its leaders to push for “less academic work” in the coming months and to press for a moratorium on student grades and teacher ratings.

Other unions have fought and obtained limits on the workload of teachers. In Brevard County, east of Orlando, Florida, the union and the district agreed in late March to limit teachers’ teaching time to three hours per day. The district also agreed that it would not require teachers to communicate with families using their personal cell phones and that it would not formally assess teachers’ online education.


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