Wednesday, October 05, 2005

NYC Teachers Capably Disabled - Stay Strong

I am really saddened by teachers I have spoken to lately who feel that they have been subtly harassed by their administrations because of their need for handicap accommodation. I heard of people with severe rheumatoid arthritis, suddenly told to work in classrooms of the 5th floor of a walk-up building. Since this was never requested before, it is a very odd assignment, since there are others who can do the same job. Other teachers with walking disabilities are assigned Assistants who were to be excessed, in a school known for not replacing people who have left for almost any reason. Teachers in that school have gone almost a full year with out an EA because their EA went on maternity and child care leave. An ex-teacher, now on disability, even said that when she told her principal she needed accommodation, the principal said "It doesn't have to come from my staff does it?"

Another teacher asked for someone to bring his class up and down the stairs. He was snidely told, the perhaps he should take a leave of absence, so he would not impose his hardship on others!

I was quite lucky. The teachers in my school went out of their ways to help me any time they could. Never did any of them say I was burdening them, although at times I felt I did. When they saw me carrying heavy bags, there was always someone who would take it and tell me they would get it to my room for me. Unfortunately, all too many teachers are not so fortunate. It is for them I blog now!
So, teachers who are capably disabled take heed. Do not allow yourself to be pushed into quitting, taking unwanted leaves, or retirement. You have rights in the work place according to the LAW. The NYC DOE is a work place.

Document all the little comments, assignments, jokes or jibes. Write them in a little memo pad you can keep on your person while at work. Write them objectively, as you would an anecdotal note or accident report. Note the day, date, time, location, people present and the event as it occurred. Keep it handy, so when the time comes that you have had enough, you will not have to "remember" all of the little things- you'll have them in your pocket ready for your Union Rep or Attorney!

Naturally, the obvious first course of action is to learn your rights! A physical handicap does not mean you are unable to help children learn! Your skills are needed and you have the right to work! Remember: You are not alone!

Here are some resources:

UFT Committee for Members who are Capably Disabled:

Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page:

New York City Commission on Human Rights:

I've said my piece for now.

Be well all, and Keep on Keepin' On!

posted by An Educational Voyage @ 10/05/2005 11:34:00 PM  
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At 12/27/2005 7:13 AM, Anonymous Ed said...


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