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Parking and the NYC Dept of Education

September 23, 2008 am30 12:20 am
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When the parking stuff was coming to a boil I wasn’t blogging. But it’s still fresh, still worth commenting.

NYC teachers last year could apply for and receive little parking ‘placards,’ cards that sat in our windshield, allowing us to park in designated DoE parking spots. There were many more placards distributed than actual spaces.

This year Bloomberg attacked permits for loads of agencies, and rolled back designated spots. The City and the UFT reached an agreement whereby the number of spaces was untouched, but the number of permits was reduced to match the number of spaces. (other agencies actually lost spots)

Problem I: tens of thousands of teachers had placards, and will no longer. Why does it matter? If there were no spots, why whould anyone care? In some schools the spots were first come, first serve. In others, the extra placards would be sort of a ‘bonus’ if someone was sick, or out. In other cases the placard came into play when the teacher had to attend an afternoon meeting (or athletic event, or training) at another school. Arrive after 3, and the early birds were already on the way home, space now available.

I used my card about 5 times a year, in exactly those circumstances. Multiply that by 10,000 teachers. And my 5 times is probably a low number. A small benefit, cost the city nothing, and thousands of us had it, and lost it.

Problem II: the agreement let the chapter leader and the principal allocate the placards. We know better than that. Or we should. Many of our chapters are too weak to stand up against principals. We needed a citywide agreement that laid down an implementation plan, and perhaps allowed schools to modify it. I happened to be out this weekend with about ten teachers from a bunch of different boroughs, different grade levels, this weekend. Not one of them was in a school where the agreement was implemented. The closest I heard was principals taking cards for themselves, their APs, their F-status cronies, and then letting the chapter dole out the remainder.

So watch this picture: 7:30, teachers circling blocks, students lining up for a 7:45 class, teachers looking for spots, while empty spaces wait for a part-timer or an AP to fill at 9 AM. Beautiful.

Problem III: I sense far too little awareness of Problems I and II. Randi told the exec board two weeks ago that we won our maximum position. The UFT descriptions of the changes make it sound like a victory. Ten thousand teachers lost something, and I am not sure that downtown understands why we are upset. That’s a problem.

The part of the deal that gives chapters a say could be made much better by working on strengthening our chapters, strengthening our union from the bottom up. I don’t hear objections to doing this sort of work, but I see little action….

Finally, the placards themselves. They used to cost the city nothing, but they were an (albeit small) but symbolically important economic benefit to many of us. We should, though we won’t, reopen this. We should make sure that no school is completely shut out (so that there are at least cards for teachers or even admins when they need to attend meetings elsewhere, where public transport is not practical.

And that’s the last bit. I am a big fan of public transport. I use it, where it is practical. The tyrrany of the upper east side rich poking at middle class schlubs who need to drive is infuriating. Meeting in Manhattan? Of course I jump on the train. Meeting on the other side of the Bronx? What, are you kidding?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2008 am30 2:04 am 2:04 am

    I think you nailed the parking situation on the head with that post. I don’t even drive and it is kind of infuriating to think about. The first time you hear or read that the city is “aligning the number of parking permits with the number of parking spaces available” it seems to make sense. But when you stop to think about it for a minute it is ridiculous for all the reasons that you described in your post. Anyone who works for the DOE should be able to park in a designated spot–the placard is essentially a way to identify those people. It seems that the new system makes having a permit equivalent to having a reserved parking space for the year and there is no reason why some teachers should be awarded that benefit and others not.

  2. Ms. j permalink
    October 4, 2008 pm31 5:14 pm 5:14 pm

    I am a handicapped teacher with only an off street parking permit. I did not need an on street parking permit because I had a school permit to park at work. This agreement, for lack of the correct word, has left me high and dry. I had to apply to the city for an on street parking permit and this is a 3 – 6 month process. I nicely asked for a new parking permit until issued the city permit and was curtly told “Get Access A Ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The Union, the Disabilities Division, the Chancellor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office – I have communicated with each of them = multiple times and have received no assistance. Now I go to work at 6:30 AM, see all the empty parking spots around the perimeter of my building, and am forced to circle the blocks repeatedly looking for a spot. Then I must walk a much further distance to my building and hope I can walk back to my car at the end of the day. Thanks alot UFT!!!! Also, if this was an agreement between the Mayor’s Office and the UFT, then why is Administration getting the permits when they are not UFT Members – nor is the Custodian – nor is the Lunchroom staff!!!! Can I get a refund of my Union dues to pay for car service?????????????

  3. October 4, 2008 pm31 6:01 pm 6:01 pm

    Ms j,

    small consolation, but your old pass is good until October 20 (they extended it).

    In the long run that doesn’t help you. From what I am hearing, in a very large number of schools, administrators are either allocating the passes, or taking their cut before passing them on to the union for teachers to share the remainder.

    Our officers could have known, should have known that by ’empowering’ chapters that were simply too weak to stand on their own, that we were giving principals power which they had not formerly had, and in effect, making many members more dependent on the whims of those principals.

  4. Brenda Caldwell permalink
    January 14, 2009 am31 2:59 am 2:59 am

    I am writing because I was out for three months due to surgery. The decision at my school was to go by senority and I have the most senority. But, the principal took my permit stating how can I get one when I was out for so long. And as it was written some chapter leaders are too weak.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 19, 2012 pm31 1:17 pm 1:17 pm

      Does anyone know what agency– DOE or DOT- is responsible for questions about parking permits? That is, WHO do we contact to get info about acquiring a permit (if, for ex., there is a medical need)?

  5. Ms. C permalink
    November 3, 2009 pm30 12:19 pm 12:19 pm

    Are Parking placards for UFT empolyees only

  6. Isidoro Valentin permalink
    January 5, 2010 pm31 8:33 pm 8:33 pm

    I have 23 years in the system and people who started working no long ago have a parking permit. How is that possible? At lest, they should give them out in the form of a lottery, that would be more reasonable for all the union members.

  7. jacqueline birkett-johnson permalink
    June 26, 2014 pm30 5:31 pm 5:31 pm

    The recent issue of co-location is going to make parking even worse for DOE teachers and UFT members. It is my understanding after speaking with someone at DOT that if your building received 24 passes to divide between two schools that are currently there; when a third school comes in as is going to happen in September 2014, the three schools must now divide the same 24 passes. Impractical an inconvenient in many ways.

  8. Colleen permalink
    May 5, 2016 pm31 8:09 pm 8:09 pm

    At my school, it can take more than an hour to find a parking spot. Since the DOT was last out to survey in 2008, our staff has doubled. Yet, we still get the same number of passes (6 passes, two of which go to the principal and assistant principal). That leaves 4 passes for approximately 80 staff members. We’ve tried to get more passes, but UFT says to contact DOT; DOT says to contact UFT. On our block alone, there are 2 school buildings, which each house 2 schools. There is another (large) school a block and a half away. All of these schools are DOE. Anyone have any ideas about how to get more passes??

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 5, 2016 pm31 8:16 pm 8:16 pm

      I have been struggling with the same issue for years now-Thank you, Mr. Bloomberg. If we all somehow organize and write letters or email or demand our union to DO SOMETHING…. ,maybe….? My building has 6 schools within it and there are always many open parking spaces, just sitting empty all day!

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