NEW YORK CITY — A group of teachers within the United Federation of Teachers is sending out a survey to gauge how educators really feel about the support they have received from their union and the department of education during this pandemic year.
The group says they’re taking initiative because they feel education leaders have never asked rank-and-file for their opinion on re-opening city schools in the midst of a pandemic.
"Our union is the largest stakeholder in terms of actually speaking for teachers and they haven't spoken for teachers," said special needs teacher Annie Tan.
The MORE-UFT caucus said more than 500 staff members have responded to the following questions:
- How has COVID impacted your school?
- What should the public know about teaching conditions in schools right now?
- How much support are teachers getting to effectively teach students?
Some of the comments coming in paint a picture of teachers stretched thin.
“I am worried about meeting the needs of all of those hybrid and remote students," wrote one. "I feel like students with IEPs, particularly those that are fully remote need much more support. This is not sustainable."
Another said that ventilating schools led to an unforeseen problem.
"The rooms are freezing in order to keep the rooms properly ventilated and teachers and kids need to wear coats all day."
Teachers and students are feeling overworked, underwhelmed and burnt out.
"It's really important again for us to remember the whole picture of a student and their family in this and again, three quarters of families and probably more than that at this point have opted for fully remote learning by this point," Tan said.
The questions were created by about two dozen teachers. Tan believes the survey will show a vast majority of educators do not feel supported providing instruction to students right now, whether in-school or remote learning.
While the DOE has announced steps to improve learning loss starting for the 2021-22 school year, Tan wants to know what's being done right now to improve conditions for the 75,000 school staff members and 1.1 million public school students.
She is hoping the city is not just relying on a vaccine to improve education standards.
"I think the vaccine will be a game changer," Tan said. "But it could take months if not a full year. For many people, to get to it. So it is not an end-all be-all right now.
The caucus will present their findings to city and union leaders after the holidays. Members can take the survey here.