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Teachers union upset with west Queens superintendent

The dispute has been brewing since last month, when more than 100 schools approved a statement of censure - or a formal list of gripes - against Region 4 Superintendent Reyes Irrizary, said UFT representative Jeffrey Zahler. The 47 grievances, which more than 8,000 educators backed, blast the administration over rigid mandates that severely restrict teachers' freedom in the classroom, Zahler said.They include: Prescribed arrangements of classroom furniture; inflexible daily time agendas; "workshop" models of instruction that force teachers to follow a script and include lessons where children sit on carpets instead of desks; and restrictions on the color of bulletin boards and the amount of staples that can be used. The rules advocate a "cookie cutter" method of teaching and make it difficult for teachers to address students' individual needs, the statement said. Zahler said they have been implemented during the past 16 months. "There are some bizarre things being done," Zahler said. "It's micro-management to the 10th degree"Other gripes include making teachers work during break periods and forcing them to pay out-of-pocket expenses without reimbursement for learning tools and travel costs. UFT has met with Irrizary twice to discuss the complaints, but Zahler said she has been slow to respond. So the union has applied for a city permit for a protest at 4 p.m. outside the region headquarters at 28-11 Queens Plaza North, he said. He expects a turnout of between 500-1,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and guidance counselors.Region 4 consists of roughly 107,000 students in 106 schools in western Queens and Brooklyn. The city Department of Education said it has met with the union and has been addressing the teachers' complaints. "We have addressed the issues raised and we will continue to meet with teachers to ensure that we reach our common goal of raising student achievement," Department of Education spokeswoman Alicia Maxey said in a statement. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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