Saturday, April 29, 2017

Educators Served With 3020-a Termination Charges Remain High During The De Blasio Years.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio took over there was hope that the confrontational actions at the DOE would change to collaboration.   However, once he selected Carmen Farina as Chancellor with her anti-veteran teacher attitude and her deep ties to the Bloomberg years as a Deputy Chancellor, most educators knew deep down that nothing will change and the "gotcha system" would continue.  Under the new Chancellor, she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE and instead of reducing the amount of lawyers at the Office of Legal Services and the data mining Accountability Managers, they actually increased. In fact under Mayor Bill de Blasio there has been a doubling of high-salaried bureaucrats at the DOE while school budgets are tight and essentially remained flat.

When it came to teacher discipline, the change in the Mayor's Office hardly affected the punitive process from the Bloomberg years.  Every year there are over 350 educators who are served with 3020-a termination charges.  In fact the number of educators served with 3020-a termination charges under the de Blasio/Farina tenure are as follows:


Interestingly during the Bloomberg years, from 2002 to 2013,  the average was 271 educators charged under 3020-a and that includes the 2006-7 years when it averaged 636.   However, just like during the Bloomberg administration years, not all educators went through their 3020-a hearings.  Quite a few, the majority in fact, took settlements ranging from a fine and exile into the ATR pool to irrevocable resignation or retirement.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that three out of every four settlements result in the educator irrevocably resigning or forced into retirement.

In 2016, independent State arbitrators issued 93 decisions or approximately 24% of all educators served with 3020-a charges. Of the 93 cases the arbitrators ruled on, 23 resulted in the educator's termination (25%) and 9 were found innocent (9%).  It should be noted that educators found innocent was only 2.5% of all charged educators.   The remainder resulted in either fines or suspensions (67%).

If we take the last year of data, 2016, there was 381 educators charged under 3020-a but only 93 resulted in an arbitrator ruling.  Meaning that 288 educators took settlements and since 75% of these settlements resulted in the educator irrevocably resigning or retiring.  The DOE was able to remove 239 educators from the DOE payroll or 63% of the 381 educators served with their 3020-a charges.  This is slightly higher than the 55% figure in the last two years of the Bloomberg administration.

A major reason for the higher numbers is that many veteran teachers took the settlement to irrevocably retire rather than fight the 3020-a charges was the language in the 2014 UFT contract that allows the City to eliminate the educator's retro and lump sum payment if the arbitrator recommends termination.  Therefore, to protect their up to $50,000 payments owed, they elected to take the settlement rather than risk losing the money.

When you combine the ingredients of the anti-veteran Chancellor with the 2014 UFT contract and add a pinch of the "gotcha system", you have a recipe for continued attacks on  veteran teachers as the 3020-a numbers readily show.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Daily News Gets It Wrong Again.

In today's Daily News there is an article that falsely claims that two teachers, jailed were still getting paid their full salaries by the City.  The Daily News is incorrect, during the time the two teachers are in jail they will not be paid.  They are suspended without pay   They cannot use their accumulated CAR and they are denied health benefits as well.  Leave it to the Daily News and their crack reporters to get it wrong yet again.

First, lets take the case of Columbia Secondary School teacher, Dean Bethea, who was convicted of trying to kiss a 16 year old girl and provided alcohol to her.  He received a four month jail sentence and was charged by the DOE with sexual misconduct.  That means that the DOE had probably took Mr. Bethea into a special hearing under the "sexual misconduct" charge to suspend him without pay or benefits for the duration of his time with the DOE until the 3020-a hearing arbitrator terminates his employment.   Its highly unlikely that Mr. Betha will get another paycheck from the DOE. except for his CAR payment termination pay.

As for Osman Couey from PS 194, he has also been suspended without pay or benefits during his 30 days in jail.  However, once he is released and since he was convicted only of a misdemeanor, he will be reinstated to the payroll while waiting for his 3020-a hearing to be completed.  It is quite likely that he could receive a sentence ranging from termination to a fine.  However, if its termination, he will be off payroll within six months.  Any lesser penalty will place him into the ATR pool.

In both cases, the two teachers are not being paid while in jail but then again for the Daily News its not about the truth its about their ideological aims to demonize the public school system and the teachers in it.  At the Daily News its "never let the truth stand in the way of a good story".

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Homeless Students And The Teacher Evaluation System.

In New York State, thanks to ex-President Barack Obama and his Bill Gates inspired Race to the top program, we have a teacher evaluation system that counts all students as part of the teacher's effectiveness as an instructor.   Even students that aren't theirs!  To account for all different types of students, the State developed a complex mathematical formula that turned out to be "junk Science" and was exposed as a farce by the courts.  That brings me to how student growth of the most disadvantaged students affect the teacher evaluation system and why its not fair. 

While New York City has been on the receiving end of the great economic recovery since the depths of the recession ending in early 2012.  One area that has not recovered and has actually became significantly worse is the number of homeless students in the public school system.  According to the Independent Budget Office (IBO), there has been a 44% increase in homeless students in the Bronx since 2012 and a 15% increase citywide since last year.  In fact, over 40% of all homeless students attend Bronx schools. A more detailed IBO study on the homeless student can be found here.

Interestingly, the dramatic rise in homeless students attending Bronx schools coincided with the closing of the many large comprehensive high schools with their abundant resources to help these academically needy children in the Borough and the opening of the many Bloomberg small schools who lacked many of the resources for these vulnerable students.

Citywide there are 155 schools that have a homeless population of greater than 10%, compared to only 61 in 2012.  That is an increase of 254%!  The latest homeless student numbers show that there are 32,803 in the 2015-16 school year.  The Bronx had the most homeless students with 13,729. followed by Brooklyn, with 9,223.  Th lowest was Staten Island with only 971 kids.

Studies have shown the homeless students are the most vulnerable population and the most difficult to educate, due to their mobility and lack of security outside of the schools.  Is it any wonder that schools resort to academic fraud to jack up graduation rates and encourage social promotion.  I bet the 155 schools are major beneficiaries of lax DOE oversight that allows students to move ahead despite their academic deficiencies.  Remember, homeless students are more likely to:

  1. Be absent from school more often.
  2. Score poorly on standardized tests.
  3. Drop out of school.
  4. More likely to repeat a grade.
  5. Have developmental difficulties.
For the 155 schools that have an over 10% homeless student population, is it really fair for these teachers to be evaluated on the most difficult to educate, due to their homelessness and lack of security outside the school?  The answer is no!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The DOE's Scholarship Scam

I have written about the massive academic fraud that many schools practice to artificially raise the graduation tate, especially the diploma mill high schools, that push out otherwise, failing students, unprepared into the adult world of high education or business.  I wrote about the "credit recovery" courses that are simply a packet or an online course that allows students to take the test as many time as necessary until they pass.  I also wrote about how some high schools gave double credits for the same course like what happened in Flushing High School or how about the infamoius William Cullen Bryant High School?  However, the worst abuses, practiced by most every high school in the City is called "scholarship".

What is scholarship you ask?  Scholarship is when the Assistant Principal or Principal calls the teacher in for a meeting and goes over the teacher's grading book and ask why student A, B, C, and D are failing?  In the school I was in last year, the Assistant Principal had teachers follow the procedures listed below:

  • How many times did you call the parent, is it documented?
  • Do you keep an online grading book so parents are kept up to date?
  • What supports did you provide the student with?
  • What do you do when a student is absent?
  • Do you supply make-up work or extra credit?
Simply stated scholarship is how many students did you fail this semester and what are you, as the teacher. are doing about it?  In today's New York Post we have yet another Principal who was accused of pressuring teachers to change failing grades by the scholarship scam.

Many high schools require a 80% passing percentage,including no-shows, and if the teacher is untenured, anything less will probably result in their discontinuance.  For tenured teachers, especially veteran teachers who are targeted due to salary and seniority, look for the administration to give the teacher either a "developing" or "ineffective" rating.  The result is that teachers will pass the failing student rather than put their job in danger.  To the school administration good scholarship percentage is more important than actual student learning and teachers know this. In fact, students are not held accountable for their academic achievement only the teachers.

Is scholarship academic fraud?  Well if you are passing students simply to please the school administration, knowing full well that these students will fail at the next level then yes, its academic fraud.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Our Union Leadership Ignores Vindictive Principals.

Over the last three plus years since Mayor Bill de Blasio took over as Mayor, our union leadership has played nice with the progressive Mayor.  When he selected the anti-veteran educator, the disappointing Carmen Farina as Chancellor, our union President Michael (don't call me Mikey) Mulgrew said there was a new tone at Tweed. Of course, it was the same old song at the schools with frozen budgets, a "gotcha system" and the punitive Danielson Rubric in place.  Worse, was the continuation of the Bloomberg policy of protecting abusive principals while going after teachers.

Remember Carmen Farina was Deputy Chancellor for Joel Klein and her claim to fame was to remove most of her veteran teachers when she was a Principal at PS 6 in Manhattan. The new Chancellor showed her true colors by retaining 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers in place rather than clean house.   Moreover, when she outmaneuvered our hapless UFT leadership in the 2014 contract, she targeted veteran ATRs for termination and veteran teachers in the teacher evaluation system.  She even told new teachers to stay away from those complaining veteran teachers in the teacher's room.This is the person that our UFT President was having a love affair with.

One thing that didn't change with the new Mayor and Chancellor was the union leadership's failure to go after the many terrible principals running the schools.  Be it Monika Garg (trust factor 0%) of CPE1,  Namita Dwarka of William Cullen Bryant High School (trust factor of 28%), or Eujin Iael Kim (trust factor 39%) of PS 169.  Instead of organizing protests against these terrible principals, our union leadership lamely claims that they don't go after fellow union members.  Of course, it didn't stop them from joining demonstrations against the police, also fellow union members.  Instead, the union leadership claim they quietly put pressure on the DOE to replace and remove these principals.  However, few members believe them and the only principals that have been removed are those subject to media scrutiny and student protests like that  at Townsend Harris High School.

At least under Randi Weingarten, you had the Principals In Need Of Improvement (PINI) articles in the New York Teacher newspaper and occasional protests at schools with especially terrible school leaders.  However, under Michael Mulgrew there are no union directed or supported protests or articles about the many principals that shouldn't be running their school. In fact, the actions of our union leadership suggests that they care little about the members who are subject to these principals actions.  How else can one explain their inaction in the CPE1 saga or the Townsend Harris situation?

The lack of union action against these vindictive principals puts the staff, especially veteran teachers, in peril.  Yet our uncaring union leadership allows these principals to run roughshod over their staff with nary a peep from the union. Do I believe our union leadership is quietly working behind the scene to get the DOE to remove these terrible principals?  Well, if you believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth fairy then you would believe the union leadership is working on doing just that.  However, if you don't believe in fairy tales then the truth is our union leadership is not doing their job in advocating for the members by not confronting the DOE and the vindictive principals that are abusing their positions at the various schools they lead.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chancellor Carmen Farina Announces The Virtual Elimination Of Suspensions For Grades K-2 While Educators Are In Danger Of Arrest And Termination.

Starting yesterday, and over the vocal objections of school safety officers, the teachers, and Principal unions, disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina, announced the virtual elimination of suspensions for students in grades K to 2 and further limiting suspensions for the rest of the student body  That's right, all those wonderful little darlings that repeatedly disrupt the classroom, assault other children, and disrespect authority, will be getting a free pass to continue their negative behaviors without any real consequences.  Instead the little darlings will get a "warning card", restorative justice, or simple mediation. Good luck to that.

Oh yes, there are consequences for a child's negative behavior, its just not to the child but to the educators that dare physically confront these out of control children.  Just in the last month we had a teacher receive a 30 day jail term for attempting to keep a student who left his classroom without permission and tried to keep him from reentering the classroom who then proceeded to kick the door and scream in the hallways.  Now we have a Principal who defended a teacher who was attacked and slapped by a child and was arrested for his discipline.

How many educators have been removed from the New York City classroom and their schools for alleged corporal punishment or verbal abuse over the last year or so?  Two hundred?  Three hundred?  More?  How many of these reassignments of educators are due to the negative actions of the child?  I don't mean simple insubordination (not doing what the teacher requested).  I'm talking about violent incidents like assault, throwing chairs, menacing, and inappropriate touching of a sexual nature.  Yet, we treat all these students like their porcelain dolls marked fragile when some of these children are really on the path of being a menace to society.   Instead, of isolating the "worst of the worst" in small self-contained classes and give them and their family the professional help they need to become a better person, we dump these children on the educator to correct the problem in large class sizes, without providing them the tools necessary to help the child.  The result is when the educator tries to discipline the child for his or her negative behavior it can easily escalate to a physical confutation with negative consequences for the educator.

While I am not defending an educator who physically hurts or threatens with force a misbehaving student and they should be terminated if the child suffered a serious injury that resulted from the physical altercation.  Most educators are simply trying to defuse the explosive situation by restraining the child and holding them till the child calms down.  Unfortunately,  sometimes the educator's best of intentions backfires and we have a teacher given a 30 day jail sentence and a Principal arrested.

My best advice?  Be careful, be very careful when confronting a misbehaving student since the only suspension resulting in the interaction is your livelihood as an educator in the New York City Public School system.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Good News! NYSUT Has Reopened The Catastrophe Major Medical Plan

One of the very few benefits that NYSUT offered that was considered a good deal was the Catastrophe Major Medical Plan.  This plan is an affordable supplemental health insurance policy that pays benefits for nursing home care, rehabilitation, at  home care, and other medical expenses not covered by the basic health care, including Medicare.  The plan was closed in 2011 and many UFT members missed out on a plan that, had they knew about it , would have joined.  The good news is that NYSUT has decided to reopen the CMM plan.  You can read the information Here

The actual application for the NYSUT CMM is now available on the NYSUT member benefits page but you can download the 3-page application with instructions Here.

The deductible ranges from zero for preventive benefits to $5,000 per family and $2,500 for an individual.  The annual premium is age dependent and ranges from a low of $82.90 for members under 40 years of age and to a high of $654.77 .for members over 95 years old.  At 65 years of age the premium will be $453.93 or $18.91 per paycheck.  Remember, the time limit for filling out the application is only for 45 days, starting on May 1, 2017 and closing as of June 15, 2017.  There is no guarantee that this offer will be available in the future.

The bottom line, while this is not a replacement for the prohibitively expensive long term care plans that many insurance companies are pitching. It certainly is a much needed supplemental health insurance plan that's missing in our health benefits universe and is the fifth leg to our retirement.