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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, UFT Reach Preliminary Agreement On 9-Year Contract Ushering In Key New Reforms And Savings

May 2, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everyone. This is a very good day for New York City. And I want to thank some special guests we have with us, and the fact they're here is further evidence of what a historic day this is. I want to thank the Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents Meryll Tisch, and thank you, and the New York State Commissioner of Education John King. Thank you both for being with us. 


You're going to hear in a moment from Chancellor Fariña, from Michael Mulgrew, the President of the UFT, and from Marty Scheinman, who was the arbitrator, and the chair of the factfinding panel. I'll have something to say about each of them, expressing my appreciation as I introduce them. I want to also thank some folks who really exemplified what public service is in this city. The taxpayers definitely got their money's worth when it came to our colleagues who worked long and hard to bring this day about, starting with our First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, our Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, our Budget Director Dean Fuleihan, and then two men who worked so hard in particular on the labor negotiations over these last four months, Bob Linn, our Commissioner of Labor Relations, and Stan Brezenoff, who served as a Senior Adviser to the First Deputy Mayor throughout this process. Where is Stan when you need him?

Unknown: Stan's over there.

Mayor: Stan, you're supposed to stand there, Stan. All right, you screwed up the whole pattern here. [laughs]

And to all of my colleagues in the city government I just mentioned – I just want to say a profound thank you. And when we started out down this road, people said to me repeatedly back during the transition, that the connection between the first deputy mayor and all the deputy mayors with the budget director and the labor relations commissioner, really frames the ability to achieve great things. And we had extraordinary teamwork from this group of leaders, and we had, additionally, the wisdom of Stan Brezenoff, who has played such a crucial role in the history of this city government. I can't thank you guys enough. I just want to have a moment. I might tear up at some point in my appreciation for what you did, and the extraordinary achievement that you brought to the people of New York City. 

It's a historic day because it is, first and foremost, a great day for children and for families. This agreement will be a gateway to great progress in our school system. And that is the most important fact here today. It is also a great day for our educators, who have worked so hard for so long, who have kept working, despite the frustration of not having a contract over these last five years. And I want to emphasize, that is not a fun and easy thing to do. But despite it all, our educators stood by their posts, stayed firm in their focus on our children. So yes, we have reached a landmark agreement for our schoolteachers, but first and foremost, a landmark agreement for our children and families. 

And the last five years engendered such frustration, a logjam that seemed so often intractable, and so wrong, and so unnecessary, with so much rancor, and one that I know the members of the UFT deeply wanted to move past so they could get on with the important work they do. And what we've achieved here is not only the end of a stalemate, and the settling of such important issues, the beginning of a time of stability – we've also set forward on the path of reform, introducing an array of crucial reforms that position the New York City schools to succeed in the 21st century. Reforms in teaching methods, reforms in parental involvement, reforms in rewarding good teachers, and moving out those who belong in a different profession. And today represents a great victory for the taxpayers of this city, because this agreement is entirely funded within the city's current budget framework. And it is funded because working together, working together we identified significant healthcare cost savings, the kinds of savings that have been talked about for years, but never achieved, until this group of individuals got together and found common ground. This is a huge breakthrough for the people of New York City. 

Over a hundred thousand educators have labored without a contract since 2009. We all knew that had to end. We all wanted it to end as quickly as possible, and yet we knew we faced a host of complicated issues. And we knew that when we succeeded in finding common ground, we wanted a period of stability to heal our school systems, and move it forward. Our agreement covers nine years, so it means we will have the stability to help this school system improve fundamentally. 

And I've said many times, I don't accept the status quo in this town when it comes to education. And to really achieve a greater reset, we needed a contract like this, that gave us a strong platform for change, and today we've achieved it.

We knew from the start, like all negotiations, a lot of the discussion would be about salaries and benefits. But we also knew that this would be a rare opportunity, a priceless opportunity, to reimagine what our schools should look like. And in the negotiations, what became very clear is all involved agreed that New York City needs to think in new and fresh ways about education, and act in different ways, if we want to achieve fundamentally better results for our children. That's why we have agreed to a plan for fostering innovation that will relax Department of Education and union rules at up to 200 schools. So these schools can reinvent themselves, on everything from teaching methods to the timing of the school day. Eventually as much as 10 percent of our entire school system will be freed up in this manner. 

We all agreed on the crucial importance of greater parental involvement. I say this as a public school parent myself. I have spoken for so long about my frustrations, shared by so many parents, that we weren't focusing on what parents could do to improve the education of their children, we weren't focusing on how to bring parents more deeply and strategically into the school system as true partners. For too long, parents felt shunted aside. In this agreement, parents are treated as the crucial partners they need to be.

We redrew school schedules to increase the number of parent-teacher conferences, and the amount of parent engagement time. This will represent a huge step forward, to creating a true and consistent bond between every parent in this city and the teachers who serve their children.

It's not a surprise that we also agreed on the importance of addressing inequality in this city, and ensuring that our schools do more to close the city's obvious and painful opportunity gap. And that's why we are providing new incentives for quality teachers to use their talents in underserved communities.

All of this reflects our understanding that things are changing very quickly around us in this world. We're living in a new knowledge age, in which innovation, new technologies and new ideas drive the economy. And that reality is the key to the future of our children, to their possibilities of achieving good jobs and bright futures. Our school system has to reflect that reality. Our school system has to keep up with the times, and be there to give our children that strong foundation. We took a huge step forward achieving the plan for pre-K and after school. And we take a huge step forward now again, today, creating a platform for a stronger school system with a more innovative approach.

 I've said it before, but I want to say it again. Education determines economic destiny, in this time more than at any time in previous human history. The people standing around me hold the future of this city in their hands, because they are helping us to determine how to have the very best school system possible. That understanding, that our schools will determine our future, that our educators are amongst the most important members of our society, that we need to get it right this time – that animated this agreement. It created urgency. It created a pathway to understanding and cooperation. And I have to say, the respect and cooperation that was consistent in this process was extraordinary, it was moving, it is the reason we are standing here today. 

So, this is an extraordinary day – an extraordinary day for our teachers, an extraordinary day for our children, an extraordinary day for our parents, and a day that will literally frame the future of education in New York City for the better. Before I call upon my colleagues, just a couple of sentences en Español. 

[Delivers remarks in Spanish]

With that, I want to say, I know – I know in my heart, I know one hundred percent, that this agreement would not have been possible if we didn't have a chancellor who was part of it every step along the way, who engenders such respect from the men and women who serve under her command, who has such a keen understanding of our schools, and where our schools need to go to be better for the future. Carmen Fariña won the respect of her troops from the beginning, and when she said, here are ways we can work together, heal the wounds, move forward – people believed her. They knew it was true. They knew she was speaking from the heart. This agreement is a testament to what she is already achieving as our schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña. 


Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: Thank you. I have been smiling for the last 24 hours. And I have to say that a lot of the things that are in this contract are things I wished for, dreamed about, and never thought I'd see happen. So, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be here today, and be able to be a little bit more specific about what I think we've accomplished that is really earth-shattering. One of the things that Michael and I agreed is that we'd hug each other in public.


Because a system always works better –


– when the people involved in it actually talk to each other, meet with each other, and really bring that mutual respect to the table so what's not possible is possible. So, as a former teacher, principal, superintendent, deputy chancellor, everything in this contract is a living document of all the things I either did at some point in my life, or wished I could do but wasn't allowed to do. So I want to be very specific about where I think this is really monumental.

First and foremost, I hold professional development dear to everything I believe in. We cannot hold teachers accountable to do things if we haven't supported them, and sort of helped them get it done right. So, to the degree that we now have embedded in the contract, anywhere from 75 to 80 minutes per week  where teachers will come to the table and help write their own curriculum, discuss the best things to do in their classroom – this is unbelievable. And to me this is also going to change the dynamics in a school from ‘what they're doing to me’ to ‘what I can do for myself.’

And I think the kind of development we want to see in professional development is, how do we now go back and look at the common core, and make sure that it works so that every teacher says, ‘Ah, I get it, I understand. This is what I need to do.’ And also, that teachers who already have done it right can help other teachers get it better. This is a peer-to-peer, teacher-to-teacher, and it really is, to me, a dream come true. I remember when I tried to do this as a principal, and I had to go behind people's backs to get it signed, and I was the only superintendent who got it done in the city of New York, and it's because I cheated a little bit. But I don't encourage people to cheat, I just want you to know.


The other piece that's important – it's true, you know that, Michael – is that, you know, parents are not just there to go to PTA meetings. Parents are there to learn how to help their children. But for many of our parents, helping their children is also something that is difficult because of their work schedules and whatever. So, we now have, in every single week, 40 minutes devoted to teachers talking to parents. For a whole year, 40 minutes every week. And that means that  for example, some of the concerns I'm hearing citywide – I know Meryll, you're going to love this – I didn't know that about my child's IEP. We can actually schedule a whole year's worth of things to do every month, specific to that month. So, September it might mean that teachers talk to the parents about the kids' IEPs. We might have new immigrants coming to talk about how to help their child at home. But it's a consistent, across-the-board relationship between parents and teachers. Also, for a change, you can actually schedule an appointment and see your teacher over a period of time, so that every parent will have more interface with the teachers. But in a very dignified way, not waiting on a line, waiting when your turn comes, and the teacher says, ‘And who is your child?’ By appointment, respectfully, and really targeted. 

We now have – are going to have – over 200 schools over a period of time, that can decide how they want to represent themselves and how they want to do things different. We have a lot of schools doing things differently, but now it's going to be how do you do it, and how do you do it in a way that you add value to the system. If you're doing something totally different and it works, how do you open your doors and share it with other people, and how do we make sure that we're all learning from each other? Almost like laboratory schools, in ways that make sense, so that we can all learn from each other. 

You're going to love this – I love this one. I love them all, but I love this one. You know, the teacher evaluation process was never a bad idea, but I think asking teachers and principals to get good about 22 things all simultaneously is a bit overwhelming. So, we've streamlined the teacher evaluation from 22 competencies to eight, with the very clear idea that as you do professional development, you figure out how those eight need to be taught and administered, and that also a principal can literally walk their building, and be looking for these eight, and not have an excessive amount of paperwork. And maybe by next year it will be a different eight, but right now – if we're all on the same page, and school to school, these are the ones we're working on – we're going to raise student achievement in ways we've never been able to do before, because everybody's now doing their own thing. These eight are going to be the mantras that we live by, and even when we look at professional development from Tweed, those are going to be the ones we focus on. So, I'm really excited about that one. 

In the hard to staff schools, we're looking to recruit and retain. Retaining is a big issue, as well as recruiting, and we want to make sure that teachers who come in and who we're going to support – on my staff, in some of the schools – every staff member is being asked to adopt one school that they will visit over time. This is not about living at Tweed – not that you ever really want to live at Tweed – but if you live at Tweed, you have to go into the field, and you have to figure out your responsibility to help those schools that are struggling. 

And to that point, then also how do we make sure that these schools, and people who are doing extraordinary work, are also given some compensation for the work that they're doing? We're going to be creating a number of different ways of looking at teachers who add value to the system. We started something called Learning Partners, and Learning Partners are schools that we select because there's a passionate commitment on the part of the staff. And how do these teachers open their doors to teachers from other schools – not just their own school, but from other schools. And we've already started this process, and I think it's going to be really, really exciting. 

I think also we have to make sure that teachers who are in the ATR pool – also, there are some who are very good, and really need to be respected for what they've done, they may be there for any number of reasons – but the ones that may not be, have a more expedited process, for – as you put it very nicely – finding other jobs, other careers. And I have to tell you that I cannot tell you how much I respect the people, the negotiators from my team and Michael's team, for understanding that our only purpose in the negotiations was to make this a better system for our students. Everything we've done is through the lenses of how do we increase student achievement. Because every child in New York City deserves the best education possible. So I'm going to be living on this for a couple of weeks, I think, smiling, before we go to the next labor negotiations. But the reality is, we have done something historic. We've collaborated.

Michael Mulgrew, UFT President: Yes, we have.

Chancellor Fariña: We have communicated. 

Mulgrew: Yes, we have.

Chancellors Fariña: And now we're going to celebrate!

Mulgrew: A little bit. We've got work to do. 

Chancellor Fariña: Okay. But thank you.

Mayor: Thank you.


Mayor: So, we're talking about what was an incredibly complex, time-consuming process, and to achieve something like this, you need someone who brings all the players together constructively and creatively. And Marty Scheinman, as the chair of this arbitration process did an extraordinary job – someone that has been admired in this town for a long time for his ability to help everyone think together, find common ground, see possibilities they didn't see before. I think that as soon as we finish this press conference, I might suggest that Marty be dispatched to the Ukraine immediately.


But, he – the fact is, a real honest broker makes things happen that wouldn't have happened otherwise, and we had that in this process in Marty Scheinman. Please come up.

Martin Scheinman: I'm going to be very brief. I just – first of all, this wasn’t alone. This was a three-person panel – my colleague Howard Edelman, who's here, who did an extraordinary job, and my other colleague Mark Grossman, who's in Boston, who says he never wants to come back to New York again.


The only point I wanted to make is that, you know, when you take on an assignment like this, everybody tells you you're crazy because these are inscrutable issues, with parties that are never going to talk, that they're never going to get along, they're never going to cooperate, that they have all hidden agendas, and there's no possibility to do this. And the truth was, that's not true. My colleagues here, who are too many to mention, from both the DOE and the UFT, spent hours and hours and hours on trying to figure out solutions to things that people told us, and I've heard my whole life, were not possible.

I am a product of the New York City schools, and so as a result, it is particularly rewarding to watch, that this is just the beginning of a whole new way of looking at problems, and a whole new way of looking at each other. And so, they're not going to need honest brokers very often any longer. We put ourselves out of business. Because they're going to be able to say that really, this is the first step in figuring out how to do something. When you put a nine-year contract together, by definition, you'd have to be silly not to think that as time goes on, there's not going to be more issues to talk about, and there's not going to be nuances, and not to be rethinking things that you think in one moment, and at four o’clock in the morning, were a good idea, that maybe next time, at 10 o’clock in the morning, it feels different.

And what I will – I'm going to say to the mayor, to Michael, to the chancellor, and to everybody who worked on this, I am personally – I've done this a very long time – this is one of the most proud moments I have in what I do for a living, and I'm a little even choked up about it. Because I think these parties – everybody told me they couldn't do it, and they did it. So, thank you very much, and congratulations.


Mayor: It is no surprise that people can communicate and think together. They have some commonality. You heard that Marty's a product of New York City public schools. Carmen is the ultimate New York City public school teacher who rose up all the way to chancellor. Michael, a New York City public school teacher, who rose up to the level of president of the UFT. I have a special honor – I am a New York City public school parent. My two children having benefited and grown in our New York City public schools throughout their lives.

So, we speak a common language. We believe in our school system. We love our school system. We love the people who are part of it. Most especially, we love our children. And we know our schools have to work for our children. Michael and I started working together years ago, and we found common ground back then, working on issues of childcare. We got to know each other more, working on issues of career and technical education, the field that Michael taught in. And through all the months and years, we kept talking about education, we kept talking about the changes that had to be made, we kept talking about what a different school system would look like. And I just have to thank him for being an extraordinary partner in this process.

He is first and foremost a teacher. And if you spend any time at all with Michael, you hear him immediately start to reminisce about the kids he taught, the changes and growth he saw in them, those victories when you got through to a kid and made a difference. That's what animates him. And I know, as we went through this process, I have a fundamental faith that we were all ultimately trying to get to the same place, but I want to thank Michael and his entire team for the atmosphere of partnership and respect that they helped to create, that took very, very complicated things and started to make them achievable. So this is what partnership and cooperation looks like. This is what respect engenders – a respectful relationship allows us to get to the results that our people deserve. With that, it's my honor to introduce Michael Mulgrew, the president of the UFT. 


Mulgrew: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm shocked that Marty Scheinman was choked up, after all those days we just spend together. I stand before you today saying that, to the 100,000 people, all the 100,000 people who are covered by this agreement – you have dedicated your lives to making a difference in children's lives, and now you truly will have the opportunity to do the job the way you have always wanted to do it, because New York City is, for the first time in a long time, truly in the educational reform mode. And I can't thank the mayor enough for allowing this, and Chancellor Fariña.

I call this the contract for education. Yes, the teachers and the educators of New York City have gone a long time without getting any proper respect. That changed with the changing of the administration. But there were some tough issues that had to be dealt with. The mayor, true to his word, said all the challenges that this city faces, we can solve just by bringing people together and using common ground and respect as the basis for all of our discussions. And I am so happy that he held to his word, because that is why we are here today. We solved challenges that so many people said could not be solved – the economic challenges. We were creative. We were smart. We were respectful. And teachers now have a fair deal moving forward.

But more importantly, for myself as an educator, something that I've always wanted to do – as Carmen, both of us being teachers from Brooklyn – something I've always wanted to do, is to create opportunity for schools, school communities, parents, teachers, to work together. Because we – I – my belief has always been that the solution to great education exists in each and every school right now. We just needed to create a platform and an environment for them to be able to do what they have dedicated their lives to do, which is helping children learn. And we now have that opportunity, and I can't thank the city and the chancellor enough.

In terms of the actual negotiations, I think the part that myself and the chancellor were more excited about were the [inaudible]. The idea that you can create this avenue, where there is real trust. And we wanted the schools in this city, because we have hundreds of great schools in this city who do things out on their own – I wouldn't call it – the word you used – they figure out tough things all on their own, but nobody gets to talk about it, because they're doing it in their own way, is the nicest way to say it. We wanted to create a program that says, if you want to do things different, if there is true respect and collaboration, then we know you can teach so many other schools what education can be, and should be. And that program is something I can't wait to get started. 

But more importantly, to the teams who worked on this for the very long nights – thank you for all you've done. To the chancellor, for being an educator, it's much easier negotiating educational issues with someone who has actually spent time in the classroom. I tell you, that is a big plus. And to the mayor, for standing by his word, saying, ‘We will face every challenge together, and we will all work together on behalf of this city.’ That is what we have done here today, and I thank you all very, very much. 


Mayor: Let me say, it'd be a good time for Tony Shorris and Dean Fuleihan and Bob Linn to gather around, because I'm sure some of the questions will be best answered by them. I also want to say, I waxed eloquent and from the heart about what they all did in this process. I think Chancellor Fariña's team did an extraordinary job, and I think it is no accident that when you have deputy chancellors who also were educators in the New York City public schools, that they understood so much of what had to happen, and played a crucial role in getting us to this day as well. So, thank you very, very much. We are going to take questions on this topic only. On this topic only.

And I just want to make one personal comment, that I thought, during the first hundred days of this administration, I thought it was a fast-paced, it was intense – I think you're rarely going to see more intensity than in these next few days, with this agreement today, with the affordable housing plan being announced Monday, with the executive budget being announced Thursday – buckle your seatbelts. This is going to be a very intense time, and a time that's going to say a lot about the future of New York City. So my colleagues are gathered around – Dean, you have to come closer. So, with that again, we're going on this topic only. Dave?

Question: Mayor, let me ask you – first of all, the reform that you talked about and the chancellor talked about with the teacher evaluations. What was the significance difference between now and let’s say a year ago when it was such a contentious topic? And what is an example of going from 22 areas where they’re evaluated now to eight which you mentioned chancellor?

Mayor: Well, I just want to start by saying, both of those points get back to, I think, common sense changes that were needed, that were achievable when you brought down the volume, got everyone into a respectful stance in a private place where we could think together. Reducing the paperwork burden on our principals and our teachers so they can do the work they’re there to do, makes all the sense in the world. Creating an evaluation process that actually references the work people do – and the most fundamental work they do rather than extraneous issues. And does it in a way that makes sense to people in their everyday work. So it’s not a drag on their work, but it’s something that complements their work. That’s what animated this process.

So I think we all approached this from the perspective of live as it’s lived in our schools, starting with what our kids needed and what our parents needed, but also just looking at everyday life. And the chancellor in particular said, as a former principal – remember she brings multiple identities to this. You know, teacher, principal and an understanding of every step along the way. She was the first to say there is a simpler way of doing this that will allow us to focus on the thing we really need to focus on, which is continually improving the work of our teachers. So a lot less paperwork, a lot less confusion, a lot more focus on teacher training. [inaudible] Please.

Chancellor Fariña: I think the important thing is which eight we chose. And choosing the ones that are going to really improve student achievement was very crucial. And also so we can align…

Mayor: He wants an example of that.

Chancellor Fariña: … the professional – well certainly differentiation. Planning, assessment, these are all that we hold dear and that we really want to see being done. But also that we can then align to the Common Core and make sure that our professional development is aligned to it. That doesn’t mean we’re never ever going to increase to more numbers, but we need to get some fundamentally right first, so people can build on that foundation. So that was really one of the reasons why we went in this direction. And spent a very long time also rethinking which were the eight ones to do. And I’ll be happy to send some of that information out later.

Mayor: And I’m going to – just as a ground rule, I’m going to start some of the answers but am going to welcome my colleagues, in particular Bob Linn, who labored night and day to get this done. And I think has the most detail on all that was achieved, because so much of this is his handiwork. Sally?

Question: Could you or Mr. Linn tell us how much the total nine-year contract cost? Also how much the retro will cost? And some specifics on how – I know you said all of the money is in the current budget through savings. Can you give us some specifics on how it’s going to be paid for?

Mayor: Yeah. Let’s get Dean and Bob both to come up. They don’t need that. You’re right. I’m used to – I thought – you know, once I go for one.

Commissioner Robert Linn, Office of Labor Relations: Let me describe the structure of the deal for a moment. This is a nine-year package that averages about 2 percent a year over nine years. Out of that 18 percent over nine years, we have restructured the two 4 percent increases in a way that we could afford and we have achieved substantial healthcare savings. So I think that overall it’s important to note that the 18 percent is brought down by about 4 percent of healthcare savings, and we have taken care of a number of issues, especially the issues of the collective bargaining increases that 150,000 workers didn’t get that 200,000 others. And we’re able to fit that within an economic package that we could afford.

Question: [inaudible] specific numbers though on how much it’ll cost?


Budget Director Dean Fuleihan: Once again, Bob outlined really the important component of that. Which is, over the nine years it’s an average annual increase of 2 percent. That’s the important component. The net cost of this for the ’14 through ‘18 period, the net cost is $4 billion. However, what we’ll delineate to you actually in the financial plan next week – actually a week from today – will be a little less than that. And we’ll give you exactly more detail on the savings and how this annually breaks. So when we do the executive budget presentation next week.

Question: [inaudible] $4 billion counts retro, that is the full cost, correct?

Budget Director Fuleihan: That is the full cost over that period.

Mayor: I just want to emphasize again. We’ll have – over the next day or two we’ll be able to fill in a lot more of the blanks. But I just want to emphasize again, the spirit of cooperation. There was obviously a need to address healthcare costs in general in this city budget. And it was an absolute respectful, smart approach where everyone looked together at ways to get at that challenge and do it in a cooperative fashion. And I think that’s one of the really profound realities of this plan is it helps us address the long term fiscal health of the city, while making sure we continue to improve our schools.

Mulgrew: Pending MLC approval.

Mayor: Pending MLC approval is exactly right. Because this – again I want to emphasize and thank you for making that point. This is, you know, the agreement that we have reached through the negotiating process. There is a ratification process within the UFT. Separately the municipal labor council is going to have a consideration of this plan. It has its own separate process – first with its leadership, and then with its member unions – of going through a process of approval. So I want to emphasize, we’re speaking from the position of the achievement that’s been done already getting to this point. But we know that there’s other approvals that have to happen going forward. Marcia?

Question: Mr. Mayor, I want to talk to you about the 200 schools that are going to be freed to do whatever plan they want to depending on approval. It seems to me that it’s very similar to what charter schools are doing in that they can have a longer day, a longer year, a different curriculum. What exactly are you expecting from them, and what are you expecting them to teach other schools?

Mayor: I’m going to start and then let Carmen and Michael jump in. Look, I can tell you as a parent – I’ve spoken to so many teachers over the years and also as a public servant. So many teachers in this city are not only deeply committed to their work, they have great ideas for how to keep improving their schools. So many principals have great ideas. And what this says is, if you get agreement at the school level for innovation – it may be about the school day and how it’s laid out or the length of the day or, you know, the progression of the day or any number of other factors. The last thing that should happen is to have either the chancellor’s regulations or UFT work rules stand in the way of innovation that everyone agrees on. And every school is different, every school is its own community. So in certain schools one set of reforms might work very well, in other schools a different set of reforms. So this is really about respecting the people who do the work, the teachers and the principals who are yearning in so many cases to make the kind of improvements that they understand from their own everyday work. And we want to give them that right. And I think what it’s going to mean is our school system will take a really strong step forward. And then the innovations that come out of that will be shared consistently. And it’s something we’re committed to and we know it will be easy. Because everyone is part of the same school system, it will be easy to take something that works in one school and quickly share it with other schools. So it’s both to make the individual schools that are part of this effort more effective, but also to come up with models that can be shared effectively across the system.

Question: [inaudible] there have been a number of educators, including the [inaudible] Arne Duncan, who have said that a longer school day is something that would improve education nationwide. And I’m wondering if this is sort of a first step –

Mayor: I think take this for what it is. It’s giving each school a way of figuring out what works for it. You know we’ve talked about the value of extended learning through example – for example, through our after-school program. And that’s one of the things we’ll achieve with after-school programs for middle school kids. But this is about each school figuring out what works for it. Let me let Michael jump in.

Mulgrew: For years we’ve had an option in our contracts called a school-based option, where a school could change its contractual configuration for a school year. And we also have a lot of schools doing experimental things out on their own. We already have a school that goes to school throughout the entire year. It’s six weeks on, two weeks off. We have a school who’s working under an SBO to do that inside of New York City. What we wanted to do together was to say, ‘We want this process. We want more schools involved with this process where there is truly trust. We want to tell them it’s okay to experiment, to do things differently. And if there’s trust at that school building, let’s move forward with it. So since we already had  a provision that allowed this, we said how do we bring it to scale and really amp up, you know, hundreds of schools to do this type of innovation, which we can learn from. And let the schools that have already done a lot of this work quietly, where they’ve designed their own curricular around arts education that enhances students. We know that the answers to education, to really making New York City what we want – the greatest school system in the country – resides in our school communities. So we’re telling the school communities now, it’s okay to experiment. We will be there to help you facilitate this. Come up with a plan and we’re here to help and support what you want to do. But it has to be based on real things that are going to help the school. The days of people saying, ‘Oh a longer school day.’ Our answer was always, ‘What for? What are you going to do differently that’s going to make a difference in student achievement?’ The days of political ideology pushing ideas not based on educational research are gone. We have to do things based on what is in the best interest of children and their achievement, and that’s what we’re hoping to do through this program.

Chancellor Fariña: And I think what I’d like to add here –

Mayor: They can’t even see you.

Chancellor Fariña: Oh okay. Well sometimes that’s okay. [inaudible]. I think I agree with what Michael said, but I want to be very clear that this is not going to happen overnight. We have – this is going to be over a period of years. There’s going to be a committee that’s comprised, lo and behold, of the DOE and the UFT working together to look at the applications to decide what works, and also to make sure there’s enough of a variety. So let’s say one of the schools – which would be my personal if I could start a school today – that would take social studies as the heart of everything and basically teach almost everything through that. And begin the school day maybe a little later, because kids don’t necessarily wake up all at the same time. And really look at how we use time. Time doesn’t mean adding another hour, it means how do you use the time that you have more effectively. So I think it’s about how do you experiment – with support and with some direction – and then evaluate. This is not something you can do anything you want and then you’re left out there on the cyber space, but how do you evaluate this on a year by year to make sure that you’re raising student achievement, which is our end goal in everything.

Mayor: I want to suggest to the chancellor that you could hire a consultant to help you think about that concept of starting the school day later. There’s a young man, Dante de Blasio, who would like to help you –


– believes strongly in that philosophy. Grace?

Question: Can we get some more details about the healthcare saving, what – where that savings will come from and whether the ­ – whether union members are paying any more for their healthcare plans?

Commissioner Linn: So we negotiated a deal that agrees that over the four years going forward – fiscal years ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, and ‘18 – we will reach savings in healthcare of specific targets. And those targets are – if it’s applied citywide, which we hope it will be, it would save $400 million in the first year, and that’s in fiscal ‘15. And then $700 and then a billion and then $1.3 billion. We have agreed to a set of objectives that we think that make sense. We’ve agreed that the union will have a set of objectives that make sense. And we will work collaboratively to work out how we hit those targets. And we feel certain that those targets are achievable and my guess is we will at least hit them, if not go beyond them. We think there are [inaudible] that don’t involve shifting costs to employees, but to provide a much more efficient and effective health program.

Mayor: And just want Dean to talk about the overall budget impact.

Budget Director Fuleihan: So it’s $3.4 billion. From 2015 through 2018, is the total effect of this. And then, let’s be honest, obviously these reforms and the procedures we agreed to will continue after that period. And so it is an attempt on the delivery of healthcare to find cost savings. It’s actually what the mayor articulated from the very beginning of these negotiations. And we talked about in the preliminary budget. And to do it in a way that maintains – and the delivery of services to the employees. So there are ways of doing that. There’s a home menu. And we’re very confident about making those savings.

Mulgrew: Can I just jump in for a second?

Mayor: Please.

Mulgrew: And this is pending MLC approval, but I want to – there’s an agreement here that there will be an joint working committee, which we’ve never had before. We’ve had technical committees for healthcare. But if this is approved, there will be a joint working committee, labor management healthcare committee. Before what we would have is the city would come in and say it costs this, we would say, ‘No it doesn’t, you’re wrong, the number’s not right.’ It would be a big skirmish. But the mayor said, ‘This is in all of our interest. Let’s set up a transparent, fair committee where everybody is working for the better delivery of healthcare at the best price for the people of New York City.’ That’s why we are supporting this, because it’s that willingness to say, ‘Let’s be transparent and work together to figure out how to make these things happen.’

Mayor: Richard?

Question: Question for Mike Mulgrew. Several labor leaders whose unions had already gotten the 4 percent raises from Mayor Bloomberg have said that you satisfied the need by getting those two fours [inaudible] potential pattern that would give them only 10 percent over seven years [inaudible] not enough for them, it’s not going to keep pace with inflation. How do you convince them that this is a deal that they should not look to detonate as your members prepare to ratify it?

Mulgrew: We’ll talk to them in a couple of days after I talk to them, how’s that?

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Regarding the absent teacher reserve, how is continuing the practice of mutual consent hiring going to thin the ranks of that pool when, after all, bumping [inaudible] and under this plan, the teachers would not have a right to choose their position automatically if they have seniority.

Mayor: I’ll let everyone around me describe the mechanics. I want you to know that the philosophy that will be implemented is exactly what I said in the beginning – capable teachers who ended up in that pool for reasons that had nothing to do with them will have opportunity. People who need to go on to a different profession will be moved along to a different profession. That’s what you’re going to see happen here in a pretty clear, consistent manner. But who wants to – Bob, do you want to?

Commissioner Linn: I think this is almost an empirical question. There are currently about 1,200 people in the ATR. We believe we’ve come up with a mechanism that will dramatically reduce those numbers. And we’ll see. We think that there’s a whole host of things that are excellent for placing people who should be placed. We’re giving opportunity for those who should be given opportunity. But that – the ultimate test will be how we come out from this. And we believe there’ll be substantial reductions.

Chancellor Fariña: I want to say this loudly and repetitively, there will be no forced placement. Because it seems that some people don’t hear me, so I’m going to say it again, no forced placement.

Mayor: That’s her teacher voice, just so you know.

Chancellor Fariña: And the reality is that we have already started doing an interview process where we interview first. And if we think these are the people who – either because their schools were closed or any number of other things – we then send them out for interviews. And if we feel they’re not ready, we don’t send them out for interviews. So we anticipate that there’s going to be that process. There’s also another process where if principals – if they go visit a school and the principal says, ‘Okay I’ll try her out,’ but after a day, ‘I don’t want her,’ it’s gone. So there is a really different process for this, but I think I really want to say publically that ATRs don’t all fit one mode. There are some who are there for no reason of their own, basically, and there are others who should have other careers.

Mayor: Michael?

Question: Mr. Mayor, I was hoping to get some more details on healthcare savings? To follow up on Grace’s question, could we get just a few examples of what you’re talking about? Secondly, I heard something about a committee being formed to talk about this menu of options. Does that mean that there is no agreement on exactly what these healthcare savings are?

Mayor: As Bob comes up – first of all, Michael makes the right point that everything has to go through the ratification process. But we are very confident of achieving these savings. That’s the simplest way I can say it to you. We’ve offered a menu and we’re very confident we’re going to achieve them. But you can give a couple examples of types of savings.

Commissioner Linn: I can give you a couple examples. And one more general point if I could. People have said for decades that we should address healthcare and we should bring down costs. We have done that this time. We have come up with a process that says we – and we’ve identified way beyond the targets that we’re looking for with things like more effective delivery of healthcare that would include, perhaps, radiology and blood work done centrally and not in a doctor’s office, central purchasing of prescription drugs, centers of excellence for providing services. We have a list that is long, a list that identified a substantial number of dollars beyond what we’re looking for. And we’re looking to the unions to come up also, and they’ve given us in our bargaining suggests of methods of how – whether we self-insure, whether we have minimum premiums, all sorts of items that together we think are certain that we will achieve the targets and will go beyond the targets.

Question: [inaudible] does not approve of this proposal or this package. Does that mess with the [inaudible]

Mayor: This is – I’m interrupting on purpose. You know, the MLC is going through its process. It – we respect that that is a separate process. We also feel very hopeful that that will be a positive process in terms of approval of this model. So I’m not going to get into a hypothetical of what will happen. I think at this point there’s a lot of respect for this proposal at the MLC, but we’ll wait for them to take their vote. Michael?

Question: I just had a question for Mr. Fuliehan to clarify a figure you mentioned. You said the net cost for this through ’18 was $4 billion. Part of the retroactive pay will be dispersed in ’19 and ’20. What is the cost including those payments?

Budget Director Fuliehan: We’ll give you the exact – the exact numbers on those. I’ll come back. What I was giving you was the period through – which is the majority of it – the period through – from ’14 through ’18. So I’ll come back to you on the – on what potential may be in the out years. Obviously that’s not [inaudible] yeah, I’ll get you one.

Question: By getting rid of time that was dedicated to tutoring for academically struggling students and – if I have this right – repurposing it for professional development and for parent time, is that a statement on values of those two reforms over more instructional time [inaudible] students?

Mayor: Well I’ll start and then let Carmen come in. Look, I think I said this rather clearly over the last year. We’re going to have a heavy focus on teacher training and retaining quality teachers. We’re going to have a heavy focus on strategically engaging parents. I’ve often felt as a parent and as a public servant whose worked on education issues, that the greatest value-added that we’re not tapping into is the energies of parents as partners in the education process. We do not have a strategy. The City of New York, over years, hasn’t had a strategy for addressing that. There’s not a coherent way, right now, under the previous model, of reaching parents consistently, giving them a clear understanding of what they could do best to work with us to help their kids. And creating truly engaging ways of bringing parents in. Because what’ve we had? We had two parent teacher conferences a year that were very, very brief, kind of drive-by. I can tell you I went to a lot of them. I saw myself, it was very frustrating to parents. But that’s the way the system was structured.

We are now adding parent-teacher conferences, adding time to parent-teacher conferences and creating a weekly dynamic where parents have the opportunity to engage teachers and vice-versa, to begin a strategic engagement with parents. So those are both absolutely statements of values and priorities. We also think that this is good, quality use of the time. And we want to make sure the time was going to be used for the highest value or highest multiplier effect, and that’s what we thought could be achieved.

Chancellor Fariña: Let me complete the answer. Because there is the third afternoon that is actually, if principals want to use it, for continuing to work with students that are struggling in ways that make sense. So we’re not getting rid of it, we’re just saying there are other things that also need to be done. And the other thing that you should know is I visited schools – one of the real things that struck me is that principal after principal after principal said if you can embed PD I can save anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. I had a middle school who told me they’re spending $125,000 in procession to ensure that their teachers rewrote the curriculum or did PD. So our other hope is that by not making principals having to put this in the budget, that if they have that same amount of money, they can repurpose it for anything they want, be it to work tutoring or to do Saturday classes. I’m going to a Saturday class this Saturday to see what some – a school is doing in Queens, which they say is remarkable. So they will have cost savings that they can then use at their discretion, including buying more books if that’s what they want to do. So this had several purposes, and that was one of the big ones. Michael?

Mayor: Hold on, Michael’s going to jump in and then you’re next. Hold on, let Michael speak to it.

Mulgrew: We have said and you have – many of you have written on the fact that we have new Common Core standards. There has been very little training on this. We also want to be able to engage parents in a more meaningful way. As well as, because education is becoming more and more complicated, have time to do professional – new professional – responsibilities. So, having under your construct, under the old system, we would have tutoring which was great, except the teachers of New York City still haven’t been trained in the Common Core. So, we have to train teachers so that the time they’re spending with students is much more effective and valuable versus doing, once again, this political punch line – more time with the students – let’s make it better time with the students. That is the goal we are trying to achieve.
Question: Mr. Mulgrew, Thanks again. If you don’t mind elaborating [inaudible] between this agreement and the proposal made by the Bloomberg Administration.

Mulgrew: Are you serious?


Mulgrew: Serious? That’s a teacher. It just starts right there. This is a mayor who actually respects the workforce and says they do a great job, we have to be respectful. But more importantly, in terms of the thing I hold dearest here, which is education, we’re talking about ideas that are based on what makes sense inside of a classroom versus what makes sense in a sound bite in a political atmosphere. That is the major difference – a respect being brought forward that we understand that we have over 100,000 employees who are dedicating their lives to children. That is what they want to do. And we want to make sure that we can support the work that they are doing based off of ideas that are proven to be successful. Not based off of your own political needs. And that’s the nicest way I’m going to say it.
Question: What about the terms [inaudible] in particular as far as financials are concerned?

Mulgrew: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well I just want to say in this agreement – over, well over, a billion dollars in healthcare savings – if agreed to, across the board by the MLC, the potential of over $3.4 billion in healthcare savings over the course of the next four years. From my point of view, that was only reachable in a spirit of respect and cooperation. So, some people look at these situations and think that a word like respect is kind of a fluffy concept. I think it is a very material concept. I think it is about if you actually want to have a partnership and people believe, mutually through experience, that a partnership exists and can deepen over time, then big things happen. So for the tax payers of this city, this partnership is going to have a very big material impact for their lives. It would not have been possible if some of the rancor of the past had continued. That wasn’t getting us anywhere. This is what actually allowing us to do something for our people.

Question: I’ve got a question. It’s really a three part –

Mayor: Oh Henry! Henry!


Question: People that are trying –

Mayor: Try two part. There’s going to be an uprising for Henry here.


Question: [inaudible] there are about 70,000 teachers. Are the other 40,000 covered in this contract [inaudible]?

Mulgrew: Yes.

Mayor: Yes.


Mayor: That was kind of a trick question.

Question: [inaudible] Contracts expired in 2009 versus pharmacists, various people, are they also going to get that pay? And how much would that cost? And thirdly, speaking [inaudible]–

Mayor: Let’s stay on that one. Just one second. Hold on. I will entertain your multiple questions. But stay on this one. I just want people to know that the tax-payers got their money’s worth with Bob Linn because, in fact, this agreement we’re discussing now, which took many, many days, many hours, many long days, was one of many different unions and agreements that Bob had to engage. And, so he can speak to those other unions that go farther back in terms of what they didn’t receive because he has had to work with the entire municipal labor force over just four months time. Just to give you a sense of –

Question: [Inaudible] –

Mayor: Let him speak and then you’ll get –

Question: Non teachers [inaudible] –

Commissioner Linn: So the entire bargaining unit represented by UFT is covered by this contact. There are a number of other bargaining units that also were in the same situation in terms of not having received the increases that the other 200.000 workers did. Two of them are in arbitration right now. And we’ve moved that process to mediation. Others are not yet in that process. We will talk to them and we will work out settlements there that we hope are fair and reasonable and fit within the structure we are talking about.

Mayor: [Inaudible] Henry it’s your third question.

Question: According to those people, how much more money would it cost to pay their contracts? [inaudible]

Commissioner Linn: I don’t think I’m going to answer that because we haven’t reached settlement -


Commissioner Linn: - Unless you want to bargain for them. We’ll let you know when we reach the settlement.

Mayor: Very nice of you, Henry.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: That was part three!

Question: Part three was -

Mayor: We are all being held hostage by your three part question!

Question: [Inaudible] calls for no raises for 2012 – 2014. [inaudible] are you then going to go to the rest of your city’s workers and say for those two years, [inaudible] –

Mayor: Let’s put this in our own terms. Thank you for leading the witness, though. We’re going to put this in our own terms. Bob first –

Commissioner Linn: I am the one who will have the honor to negotiate with the others. We think that there is one year without a wage increase in the settlement. And there is a thousand dollar lump sum, as a ratification bonus that is instead of that increase. We think that, overall, it is a fair package and we hope to be able to extend that to other employees.

Mayor: Couple more over here -

Question: Mr. Mayor, can you follow up on that same question about setting the pattern. Can you talk about what this means for the other unions - specifically the [inaudible], the sanitation workers, the police officers. They have repeatedly said they would not be willing to contribute to their healthcare. Today, the PBA announced they have reached an impasse status. So your talks with them are down for now. And it goes through an arbitrator now. And they’ve said they are willing to go all the way to the court to get the deal they think they deserve. They think they should be getting a raise. You’ve offered them no raises. Can you –

Ok. I think – I appreciate the recounting but I think it’s simple and Bob will – I’ll start, Bob will finish. This is, this agreement, represents something very productive. It respects the workforce and protects the tax payers. And the MLC, in short order, will consider it and decide what they think. And that’s the next step. Of course, again, the UFT has its own ratification process. So why don’t we consider what happens to everybody else after we see what happens in these next few steps because then, I think, we’ll have a fuller picture. Do you want to add?

Commissioner Linn:
PBA is not in arbitration. The police will start mediation and we hope to have constructive discussions with them.

Thank you, Bob. [inaudible]

Thanks. Just a reaction from you and Ms. Fariña about specific feedback I’m hearing from principals who say, on the ATR question, first of all, they want to know how long will they have to try out a teacher before they can to say no? And second of all, what if they really like the configuration of their school date? Can they apply to have exemptions from this new framework if they don’t want to have to re-figure the school days so they have, you know, an extra 80 minutes on Monday, 35 on Tuesday. [Inaudible] some of them have classes that they extend [inaudible] for example, or they have AP classes at the end of the day and they want to be able to keep those offerings.

I just will start and then pass to Carmen. Look, again I think it gets back to the question of values and strategies. What we're trying to do for the entire system is make some changes that we think are broadly necessary system wide. Carmen can talk about the concept of flexibility, but again, I think that fact is this agreement represents the kind of changes we think are strategically necessary to move the schools forward. I really want to emphasize – and I know you cover this topic so you will not be surprised by me saying this – status quo is unacceptable. We will not continue with our public schools the way they are. We must greatly, fundamentally improve them, and the actions were taking are for a pretty thorough reset in terms of public education in this city. So separate from exceptions that might be made, that’s what is animating the ideas behind this. Hold on –

Chancellor Fariña:
First of all, there are going to be three pre-approved SBOs in terms of time. So principals can chose from any one of those three.

[Inaudible] SBOs -

Chancellor Fariña:
Oh, School Based Options. So that means in terms of time and how to use the time, there are three that are pre-approved. One that Michael and I are still going to, collaboratively –

We’ve got to go talk to the schools –

Chancellor Fariña:
Right. And then, in addition to that, if none of the three, the principals want to apply, they can come up with other ideas. But then that would have to come to my level to be signed off on. As far as these people who are assigned to schools, one day is enough to know whether that’s someone can work with you or not. And we’re really happy about that because that’s a real difference from the past so we’re excited about all of this.

Alright. Thank you, everyone!  

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