CSA has regularly communicated with the DOE regarding our members’ growing concerns about school safety, resources allocated to schools to provide safe learning environments, and the erosion of school leaders’ discretion over decisions that affect the well-being of their communities. (Click here to access President Mark Cannizzaro’s January 2019 column.)
Unfortunately, since we have heard from you that these issues have continued to impact your schools, on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, CSA sent a letter to Chancellor Carranza and our elected educational leaders to once again express your serious and documented concerns. Click here to access the letter. In it, we detail some of our findings from the survey conducted in October.
Click here to see this month’s edition of CSA News which includes President Cannizzaro’s remarks on the survey findings as well as a sampling of members’ responses on critical educational issues.
Our 2017 Early Childhood agreement with the Day Care Council and New York City afforded CSA professional Early Childhood CBO members the ability to have a career ladder program (CLP) to assist in fine-tuning their skills. Collaboration with the Day Care Council has made the program a success. In early 2018, after much planning, some of our Directors and Assistant Directors applied for assistance through the program and have gone on to achieve new academic successes to further their careers. Presently, our college enrollment under the program has doubled.
CSA’s program paved the way for Angela Ariza-Bonilla, director of the Bellevue Educare Early Childcare Center in Manhattan, to graduate with honors with a degree in educational leadership with a bilingual emphasis from Queens College this summer. A director for five years, Ms. Ariza-Bonilla said she also passed the School Building Leadership exam, a license she hopes to use in the future.
“I gained a lot of knowledge and confidence,” she said recently. “It was an intense process but worth it. I’m more qualified now, and I feel more competent.
The exposure to research helped a lot – in community based organizations, you don’t get a lot of experience in learning about the research into what other schools have done. Most of my professors were superintendents and it was great to hear from them.”
Several other members will be graduating later this year and in the spring. The CLP also offers Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) workshops, and conferences. In 2018, we had 17 CTLE workshops and gave out over 395 hrs. of CTLE certificates. This year we are providing 18 CTLE workshops.
Twenty five directors attended conferences and raved about what they have gleaned from the experience. If you are one of our ECE members, please consider this program for your professional growth and development.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com
A happy yet combative mood filled the air at the New York Hilton as CSA held its 52nd Annual Leadership Conference on Nov. 9. More than 1,500 people attended, including top education officials, politicians and labor leaders.
Just before lunch in the packed ballroom, CSA President Mark Cannizzaro gave a passionate speech extolling the dedication of CSA members to the children of New York, at the same time recounting a litany of micromanagement that can, whatever the intentions of bureaucrats, leave school leaders hobbled and students less safe. He rebuked city officials who have so far failed to negotiate an appropriate contract that recognizes the contributions of school leaders and administrators, and he noted that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign claimed credit for a slew of educational initiatives that CSA members have faithfully implemented. He also recounted some of the sticking points in contract negotiations which belie the mayor’s claims as a progressive leader.
“I cannot for the life of me accept that the city is trying to profit from a paid parental leave benefit,” he said, his voice rising with indignation. “I hear from expectant parents among you regularly, many of whom have had to use their CAR days during high-risk pregnancies… And I hear from others who show up to work sick so that they can save their CAR days for maternity leave. Yet this city is asking us to overpay in givebacks, more than the benefit will cost them.”
(See a transcript here.)
About 75 vendors packed a huge hall adjacent to the ballroom. And as in previous years, there were nearly two dozen workshops on topics ranging from how to eliminate the achievement gap in mathematics, to yoga and mindfulness, to ‘Compassion Fatigue: Who Helps the Helpers?’ The Frank Sinatra High School Band serenaded attendees, and a presentation by the Franklin K. Lane Campus Color guard added a somber note to the luncheon. CSA Executive Director Erminia Claudio read out the names of CSA’s military veterans in the audience, while huge screens showed picture of those who were unable to attend.
As it does each year, the Retiree Chapter kicked off the day’s events with a sumptuous breakfast for Chapter members. This year the Chapter honored New York Central Labor Council President Vinny Alvarez and CSA Historian Manny Korman.
CSA’s Political Action Committee Hosts Council Member Ben Kallos and AQE Executive Director Jasmine Gripper
Tuesday’s bi-monthly PAC meeting included remarks from City Council Member Ben Kallos (District 5) who recently announced his run for Manhattan Borough President. We were also joined by Jasmine Gripper, representing Alliance for Quality Education (AQE). As the newly appointed Executive Director of AQE, Jasmine shared her vision for the organization under new leadership and discussed how a lack of funding impacts our school communities, especially in districts that serve communities of color. In addition, announcements were shared about the impact of Early Voting, Ranked-Choice Voting, and Census 2020. Discussions pertaining to these topics will continue as we enter the New Year and gear up for a number of races that will alter the political landscape for years to come.
Lastly, for members who were unable to attend, please note the change of date for our next Bi-Monthly PAC Meeting. Congressional screenings will take place on Monday, January 16th as opposed to January 21st.
Look at this crowd! Welcome, Brothers and Sisters!
Before I begin, let’s hear it for our NYPD Brothers and Sisters who are out here keeping us safe today and every day. Remember, the men and women in blue are union too!
And for our other union brothers and sisters who are here today. We have representatives from so many unions here supporting us. And so many elected officials supporting us today and every day for the benefit or our students.
And, let’s hear it for our brothers and sisters from TWU who are rallying right down the street for a fair contract as well. We all wish President Tony Utano and his members success at the bargaining table.
Thank you all for coming out! I know first-hand the job you do and how hard you work every day. So I know it took tremendous effort for you to make time to be here today. And you are here because you know it’s important.
Since negotiating our 2014 contract, I have seen the benefit of a united front and a united union. In 2014 we stuck together in unity and we prevailed. As I look out right now, at least half of you benefitted from the solidarity of your union brothers and sisters. I told many of you then, those who were in jeopardy of forfeiting your retroactive pay, that I would be calling on you soon to stand strong for others. That’s because that is what a union does. We look out for each other, especially when someone is trying to take advantage of our brothers and sisters.
Like, last year when this City was telling families of our members who died while in active service, that since their loved ones had “left” the system before retirement, that they were not entitled to the retroactive money that was rightfully earned. Our legal team went to work and secured justice for these families. And, how we stood together to defeat the Constitutional Convention which threatened our pensions and benefits. And, how after the Janus Case, membership in this union has actually increased!
But as Frederick Douglas once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.”
So here we are again, demanding respect for the heroic work you all do. And again, I am energized by this show of strength! United we stand, shoulder to shoulder, active members, retirees and supporters!
But I am growing tired of hearing our members telling me that changes to the Discipline Code and a lack of resources have made their schools unsafe. Our survey showed that about 70% of you believe that you are not given sufficient resources to provide a safe and effective learning environment. And that only 28% of members are satisfied with the overall direction of the DOE.
And that paperwork, an insane workload, and constantly being pulled out of your buildings or being visited by others demanding your time, keeps you from educating students.
And, I don’t know whether to be angry or just chuckle when the response to our raising of legitimate concerns to hastily constructed protocols, is the suggestion that perhaps, our agenda is something other than a Children’s agenda. CSA members don’t need to defend their agenda. The students and parents we serve know exactly where our priorities lie.
And I am tired of hearing that principals cannot hire an assistant principal due to micromanagement from above. But don’t blame superintendents, most of them are as frustrated too.
And I lose sleep when I hear stories like Serena Forzaglia’s who is here with us today. While she does her best to take care of all students, she is struggling with the cost and missed work days due to undergoing fertility treatments. As this has left her with few CAR days for maternity leave, she too often has to go to work sick. And, while she has received support from our welfare fund and her outstanding principal, Robert Marino, our city has turned its back on her.
You see, they are trying to overcharge us for Paid Parental Leave. They say that “productivity” is lost when our members go on parental leave, and therefore, we should pay significantly more for this benefit than our brothers and sisters in other unions. We don’t mind paying for a benefit, but it’s disgraceful for the city to try and profit from our members who wish to raise a family! And, to their productivity argument? Can someone tell me what we are excused from getting done when a member is out on leave? Productivity is not lost: When you are short staffed, you work beyond what are already unhealthy hours, you endure unhealthy amounts of stress, and you sacrifice your families and personal relationships.
Sadly, that commitment is not honored by our City. Sure, the platitudes we hear are nice and definitely appreciated. But while you are busy doing everything our DOE and City Leaders have asked of you, despite the roadblocks they constantly put up, we are at the bargaining table hearing that all of your extra time and effort is worth nothing because you do it any way. That makes me furious.
So, brothers and sisters, please know that we will not give up and we will not give in! Your support fuels me and when we arrive at an acceptable deal, it will be because of all of you! God bless and thank you for the work that you do!
Thousands of CSA members rallied near City Hall on Oct. 30. It was a huge turnout and an overwhelming show of support by members for their union as President Mark Cannizzaro and his team continue the ir efforts to hash out a contract with a recalcitrant city government.
Mr. Cannizzaro gave a thunderous speech in which he took the city to task for offering many platitudes about the great job that school leaders do, all the while holding up a family leave policy that would benefit some of CSA’s most vulnerable members. “Platitudes are nice, but it’s your support here today that fuels us,” he told the crowd.
He hammered home the fact that the constant micromanaging of principals, combined with chronic underfunding of schools, ultimately leaves students unsafe. He cited some statistics from a recent survey of our members that CSA commissioned. “Seventy percent of you believe you are not given the resources you need to keep your students safe,” he said. “Twenty eight percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the direction the DOE is taking.”
More than a dozen elected officials also spoke at the event, including City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Council Member Treyger noted the casual way the Mayor and Department of education breed programs and initiatives, each one creating new supervisory demands on already bureaucratically burdened school leaders. He recited a litany of “for-all” programs, from Pre-K For All, to College Access For All, to Algebra for All, and after each one, said, “There’s a school leader for that.”
“You cannot have equity and excellence for all without a fair and just contract for CSA members,” he said. “You cannot have a fair system if consultants are making more money than starting assistant principals. As a member of city council’s budget negotiation team, I know for a fact that there are resources in the budget right now to deliver a fair and just contract and the City Council does not work for the Mayor of New York. We work for you!”
Comptroller Stringer also registered his disdain for the notion that budgetary constraints should hold up a contract for CSA members. “We’re going to make sure this whole city understands that without you, we do not have a future,” he said. “We can afford this. I’ve got the books! There’s a whole lot of waste. Maybe we don’t have to invest in the bureaucracy — maybe we’ll invest in the people who invest in our kids. When we invest in you, it’s a multiplier for our economy and our city and this is the best deal in town.”
A host of labor leaders addressed the crowd, including CLC President Vinny Alvarez, DC 372 VP Donald Nesbitt and UFT VP LeRoy Barr and Janella Hinds, UFT’s VP for High Schools.
Barr and Nesbitt offered powerful and general testimonials about how members of our unions often fight each other in individual cases but in the end we are all members of a working class that is fiercely devoted to educating the city’s children. “We can’t do the work we do without the people who lead our schools,” said Barr. “We are family.”
Mr. Nesbitt, whose union represents school aides, lunchroom workers, school crossing guards and parent coordinators, gave a heartfelt take on the same theme. “Some have asked the question, ‘Why would we stand with the administrators, the people who may discipline our members?’” he said. “You are leaders who wake up every day and give your all for the 1.1 million children in NYC, children who are in transitional housing, children who are in broken households. You treat them with love, you treat them with dignity, you treat them with respect as they attend school. And yet when you ask for fair conditions for yourself and for your own families, you are told no, this going to cost too much.”
CSA’s rally coincided with another union event that began a few yards away in City Hall Park: The Transit Workers Union Local 100, which is engaged in protacted and acrimonious negotiations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Leaders of each union pledged support for the other at their respective events.
Throughout the event, a spirit of unity and excitement coursed through the crowd. Nancy Russo, a retired AP and fierce unionist, was one of CSA’s early members who was present at the creation of the union, and she delivered a short address that spoke to her desire for the union to continue growing stronger as new generations of educators enter the ranks. “It’s often said that you stand on our shoulders, and that gives you a view of the future, unobstructed,” she said. “Tonight, I ask you to step down from our shoulders and let us stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight for a fair contract. Know that we stand with you, and we’ll welcome all of you when you cross over the line to where we are.”
Jessica McKenna, an assistant principal at PS 247 in Brooklyn, joined her principal, Christopher Ogno, in making the trip to City Hall. Ms. McKenna, a teacher for more than 20 years and an AP for about two, noted that she had been on her feet since 7 am but that it was crucial to be an active member of her union.
Oct. 17 marked CSA’s first ever joint lobby day with AFSA in Washington, DC. We joined our brothers and sisters from around the country to have important conversations with elected officials at the highest levels of government. Active CSA members lobbied alongside retired members, an experience that all said was important and useful for our cause.“ The opportunity to convey our experience from the ground was well received and we were able to educate those who influence policy,” said Wladimir Lewis-Thomas. “We need to be at the table to influence those who impact policies that affect what we do.”
Our lobbyists tackled several issues, including Title II – Part A funding, Title IV – Part A funding, school safety, mental health, school climate, and funding. Members conveyed real experiences in our schools and expressed how the government has been falling short when it comes to the nation’s investment in our students, schools and school leaders.
Throughout our lobby visits, we urged Congress to fund Title II – Part A funding at no less than the House-passed level of $2.5 billion, an increase of $500 million from last year’s fiscal year budget. Title II – Part A funding alone could be directly allocated toward establishing a principal pipeline and creating leadership development programs.
Additional funding could be used to prepare aspiring school leaders, help current principals, and invest in mentors and coaches who directly support principal learning. Research has shown that a more deliberate approach to educating and supporting school leaders will improve schools throughout the country, while also boosting principal retention. Title IV – Part A funding was another important issue that was discussed during our AFSA hill visit. Title IV – Part A funding directly impacts our student support and academic enrichment grants. These grants include programs that would establish a more well-rounded education for our students. Arts, music, computer science, and social studies are just a few areas that could be improved with additional funding. We urged Congress to fund the “Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants” at the authorized level of $1.65 billion in FY 2020, up from $1.17 billion the year before.
Finally, we discussed school safety, climate, and mental health issues. We promoted student well-being and pushed Congress to support holistic approaches to violence prevention and intervention within our schools and our communities. We support three bills aimed at improving access to school-based mental health services. These bills include the “Mental Health Services for Students Act,” “Safe Schools Improvement Act,” and the “Trauma-Informed Schools Act.” The issues addressed under these bills include comprehensive anti bullying policies, increased funding for substance abuse and mental health services, and evidence-based training for crisis intervention teams.
“I’ve always believed that New York has been a trend setter regarding education, and it is important for us to have a seat at the national table to share our innovative approaches,” said Janice Imundi, a retired principal and the secretary of the CSA Retirement Chapter Executive Board. “It was obvious to everyone that our team was organized, well-trained and experienced individuals who knew how to advocate for bills that affect our students. It was also important that we maintain relationships with AFSA members throughout the country and communicate with them at times other than when we see them at the AFSA Convention every three years. Go team!”
Indeed, the comradery between retired and active members with school leaders around the country reinforced how interconnected we are as a union family, and how important it is to continue building internally as well as under the national leadership of AFSA, NAESP, and NASSP. We are only strong if we continue to learn from our past, build in the present, and strengthen our pipeline for the next generation of school leaders. Personally, I believe this trip was a small glimpse into the potential this union has locally, statewide, and now, on the national stage.
Each June, CSA awards scholarships to a HS senior in each of the boroughs. Last year, we expanded our scholarship to a $10,000 scholarship to a child of a member. We can do this because CSA members viscerally understand the need to support NYC youth and donate generously to our fund.
An additional part of our funding strategy is our annual golf tournament, held this year on Oct. 14, at Dyker Beach Park Golf Course. CSA is grateful to everyone who participated, from golfers to generous sponsors.
Sponsors included: Administrative Services Only, INC.; Alliance Bernstein; Empire BlueCross BlueShield; I.U.O.E. Local 891; Kobargo Technology Partners; OptumRx; Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno; LLC; A+STEM Labs; CITE; EmblemHealth HealthPlex; Local 94-9A-9B; and M3 Technology.