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Qns. UFT leaders criticize Klein

Nearly all Queens public school educators believe city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is not providing teachers and schools with the resources they need to ensure students a high-quality education and they fault his ability to keep the school system managed and running smoothly, according to a recent survey by the United Federation of Teachers.

"The teachers in this city are incredibly heroic and selfless because they've actually put their own views ... aside to really help kids," said UFT President Randi Weingarten at a news conference last Thursday.

Working off the city Department of Education's Learning Environment survey as a model for evaluation, the UFT replaced "principal" with "chancellor" and sent the survey to its 100,000 members in the city's 1,450 public schools in early June.

More than 61,000 educators from the five boroughs filled out the confidential survey between June 10 and June 18, turning the tables by allowing educators to weigh in on the chancellor and the DOE's performance.

Although most public schools in Queens have been earning high marks on their recent school report cards — especially schools in northeastern Queens whose students score very well on standardized tests — the majority of Queens educators do not attribute their schools' success to Klein's actions and policies.

Joseph Kessler, the UFT representative for District 25, who presides over public schools in Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and East Flushing, said "as I went into schools to distribute surveys and spoke with teachers and chapter leaders, the exit poll was that 95 percent of educators felt overwhelmingly negative toward Chancellor Klein."

"Although this survey was taken by a secret ballot in every district, the results definitely speak for themselves and express what educators in Queens want Klein to know," said UFT District 24 representative Rosemary Parker. District 24 comprises Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Corona, Middle Village and Long Island City.

The survey also reports that 84 percent of city educators think the chancellor does not work to reduce class sizes, 80 percent claim the chancellor is not doing enough to promote order and discipline in schools and 80 percent say the chancellor fails to prioritize every students' learning needs.

Klein questioned the survey methodology, pointing out the questionnaires had been distributed by the union itself.

"Other people want to play politics, they can play politics. Fundamentally, I'm staying focused on things that matter, getting results that matter for our kids," Klein said last Thursday.

"We hope Chancellor Klein will accept these findings in the constructive spirit in which they are offered," Weingarten said.

The American Arbitration Association, the organization that verifies teacher's votes in elections and contract ratifications, tabulated the union's survey results. The survey and results and additional information can be accessed at uft.org.

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