Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Principals Scam The ATR System - The Provisional Appointment.



























Susan Edelman of the New York Post has for months tried to get a breakdown of the ATRs who were permanently appointed, provisionally filling a vacancy or long term assignment, and who were left in the ATR pool.  Moreover,  the age and experience for each group would be helpful in determining if there is discrimination (in my view there definitely is).  The DOE has so far, refused to break down the information and for good reason.  They know full well that the data would show age and salary discrimination in hiring ATRs permanently for their vacancies.  I have written repeatedly that the DOE's fair student formula is a major disincentive for principals to hire highly experienced ATRs, add that to the seniority issue when an ATR is appointed, and their institutional memory, few experienced ATRs are permanently appointed.

At first, principals refused to hire ATRs as then Chancellor Joel Klein called them "unwanted teachers" in a Principal's weekly message.  More importantly, the New York City schools saw a massive influx of inferior "Leadership Academy Principals", many of them with little or no classroom experience who thought they were CEO's of their schools rather than instructional role models and saw veteran teachers as a threat to their lack of educational experience.   As the recession hit, the DOE had no choice but to offer schools incentives to hire ATRs for their school.  Of all the incentives, the only one that was partially successful was a one year program in 2009-10 that allowed schools to appoint highly experienced ATRs at a beginning salary and have the DOE pay the difference for the first eight years.  Since that time, all the ATR incentives have met with failure, despite the UFT's leadership attempting to put lipstick on a pig.

The latest iteration has increased the selection of ATRs from the pool to cover vacancies and other long-term assignments.  However, most every one of these provisionally appointed ATRs are excessed at the end of the school year as principals have no intention of hiring the ATR permanently, regardless how well they do their job. While the amount of ATRs who go from a provisional to permanent placement is a closely held secret by the DOE and UFT, anecdotal evidence tell me its in single digits percentage wise.  Those selected were mostly younger and untenured teachers who cost less, and have little or no seniority.

The DOE told the media their were 1,083 teachers in the ATR pool and that 500 ATRs were given full time positions.  However, how many of those 500 ATRs were permanently appointed?  Very few, if any.  The vast majority were placed there provisionally and will be excessed at the end of the school year.  In fact some ATRs, myself included, has been picked up by the same school two years in a row, in apparent violation of the spirit if not the rule of the ATR agreement.  How do principals get away with this?  Easy, they know how to scam the system, be it "credit recovery", graduation rates, ICT class abuses, or the ATR agreement.  Knowledgeable principals can scam the system and be rewarded for it and they know it.

Unless and until the DOE changes the hiring rules and our disconnected union leadership demands that ATRs be permanently placed in their District vacancy and not be loaned out on a provisional basis will things change for the better.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chancellor Carmen Farina Shows Her True Colors And The Union Leadership Looks The Other Way.



























From day one many of the bloggers were wary of the appointment of Carmen Farina as Chancellor of the New York City schools.  It was pointed out that she was Deputy Chancellor under Joel Klein's anti-teacher crusade until she was forced to retire.  Moreover, she bragged about her sharp memory and remembered everything, except when she was interviewed by investigators about the infamous Cobble Hill cheating scandal and couldn't remember anything, despite being Superintendent during that time.  Finally, how about how she replaced 80% of her staff, while Principal of PS 6 in Manhattan and allegedly diverted money allocated for one program to others without approval.  You can read it yourself from Phillip Noble and Betsy Combier.  Read Betsy Combier's latest post about Chancellor Carmen Farina Here.  While the Chancellor replaced 80% of her staff at PS 6 as Principal she retained 80% oi the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE.

Last year Politico New York reported how Chancellor Carmen Farina's top priority was not improving student academic achievement and bringing joy, respect, and the love for learning back in the classroom but how to remove "bad teachers" from their classrooms.  How about bad administrators?  That's right Chancellor Carmen Farina's top priority was removing teachers and this was her recurring theme taken out of the Politico article.

FariƱa said asking principals to weed out their weakest teachers has been her “first statement when I get into any school visit. ... I repeat it over and over again."

To the Chancellor its not about the already too large class sizes, frozen school budgets, or student discipline issues that have exploded during her tenure as Chancellor its all about firing teachers. 

Just read the entire Politico article and one can see that Chancellor Carmen Farina cares little about education, she only cares about having it her way.  Just look at the Superintendents she hired, since becoming Chancellor, be it Amiee Horowitz or others who expect the principals under them to discontinue and slap the "ineffective" label on more and more teachers. Furthermore, who can forget what Chancellor Carmen Farina said about veteran teachers at a new teacher workshop.   Proof ofher anti-teacher attitude can be found in the continued numbers of teachers under 3020-a termination charges as the Chancellor has chosen to justify the employment of the large numbers of lawyers by pushing them to terminate teachers. For different takes about Chancellor Carmen Farina read the nyc educator and ednotes online posts.

The bottom line while the Chancellor continues her anti-teacher crusade our union leadership sees nothing, does nothing, and fails to hear what the Chancellor continues to spew about teachers.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Average Teacher Pension By State



























Based upon the latest data available from 2014-15 school year, the average teacher pension by state is listed below.  You will notice that the majority of teachers never last long enough to be vested and receive a pension.  Moreover, with the new teacher evaluation systems that use student test scores and punitive rubrics like Charlotte Dainelson, along with longer vesting periods, look for an even higher percentage of teachers never lasting long enough for a pension.

State.........................Pension................Vested
Alabama...................$20,700...................39%
Arizona.....................$20,500.................100%
Arkansas...................$21,100...................57%
California...................$43,300..................69%
Colorado.............. .....$37,500..................36%
Connecticut................$47,400.................55%
Delaware...................$20,500..................36%
Wash D.C...................$63,500..................29%
Florida.......................$19,800..................28%
Georgia......................$34,900..................33%
Hawaii.......................$15,000..................25%
Idaho........................$17,000..................70%
Illinois.......................$46,500..................50%
Indiana.....................$16,400..................31%
Iowa.........................$19,700..................42%
Kansas......................$12,900..................44%
Kentucky...................$34,700..................67%
Louisiana..................$23,800...................56%
Maine.......................$20,300...................14%
Maryland..................$35,000...................43%
Massachusetts..........$38,600..................12%
Michigan..................$21,300...................41%
Minnesota................$20,300...................30%
Mississippi...............$18,800...................24%
Missouri...................$41,300...................58%
Montana..................$21,200...................35%
Nebraska.................$22,600...................32%
Nevada....................$30,500..................57%
New Hampshire........$21,400..................31%
New Jersey..............$40,100..................56% 
New Mexico.............$21,200..................33%
New York.................$44,400..................40%
New York City..........$45,000...................33%
North Carolina..........$18,400..................35%
North Dakota............$31,600..................56%
Ohio........................$46,600..................34%
Oklahoma................$19,800..................44%
Oregon....................$28,300..................46%
Pennsylvania...........$24,600..................36% 
Rhode Island...........$45,000...................51%
South Carolina.........$19,600..................37%
South Dakota...........$18,700..................53%
Tennessee...............$18,600..................56%
Texas......................$44,600..................59%
Utah........................$16,000..................52%
Vermont..................$18,200..................33%
Virginia...................$22,000..................50%
Washington.............$20,600..................55%
West Virginia...........$19,200..................39%
Wisconsin................$22,900..................64%
Wyoming.................$17,600..................42%


 Nationally only 44.5% of all teachers end up being vested for a pension and 19.7% make it to full retirement age.  A more complete analysis for each state can be found Here.  While 33% of Tier I to IV New York City teachers are expected to be vested for a pension.  The Tier VI teachers will have a much lower vesting percentage due to more punitive job requirements that discourage long-term employment as a teacher.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Michael Bloomberg's Legacy, Large Class Sizes And More Administrators.

























The Empire Center For Public Policy has reported that since 2001 the numbers of students fell 8.6% in the New York City while staffing increased by 3.2%.  Some of the increase is due to federal and State Special Education mandates requiring additional resources and self-contained classrooms.  Especially the ever expanding District 75 program that has teacher to student ratios ranging from 6:1 to 12:1 classrooms.

Interestingly, despite the increased self-contained classroom requirements, teacher staffing only increased by only 1.7%.  By contrast, there was an increase of 12.3% by non-teaching staff.  The vast majority were Principals and Assistant Principals who increased by 1,100.  The increase in school administrators can be traced to the closing of the large comprehensive schools and the creating of the Bloomberg small schools in their place.

The large comprehensive school had one Principal and six to eight Assistant Principals who oversaw 2,000 to 3,000 students.  In its place are four to six small schools with an average size of 450 students.  Each school has a Principal and at least two Assistant Principals or a minimum of twelve  to sixteen administrators and probably higher.  The result are the small schools are top heavy on Administrator salaries compared to the closed large school.

Add the top heavy administrators to the major reductions the Mayor imposed on the schools through the Fair Student Funding (fsf) which saw schools receive 100% of the fsf in 2007 fall to 86% on the average by 2012.  A 14% reduction.  Worse the large comprehensive schools saw the largest reductions with some schools only receiving 80% of their fsf while the newer Bloomberg small schools received 100+% to ensure their success.  While the De Blasio Administration has slowly increased the average fsf to 89%, that is still 11% below the fsf despite the City havings a 6 billion dollar budget surplus.

How did schools pay for their top heavy administrators?  They increased class sizes and hired the most inexpensive teachers they could find, even if they were not certified in the subject they were hired to teach in.  According to UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, half of all Math and Science teachers are not tenured and many aren't even certified! There has been a 25% increase in Special Education services and the inclusion program with many ICT classes having excessive class sizes.  Costing the DOE and the schools even more money.

The legacy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg can be summed up with ever increasing large class sizes, tight school budgets, and a funding formula that penalizes principals who hire veteran teachers.  Add to that with the over staffing of school administrators and it ends up to be "a rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario as schools are forced to cut corners and retard student academic achievement.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Rules About "Double Dipping" For Public Employees.



























Last week, the City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, identified 11 TRS members who were caught "double dipping".  That is getting a City pension while working a new City or State job.  The rules about working for another City or State public agency while receiving a pension is very clear.  Let's go over them.

A City or State public employee of New York State can only make up to $30,000 while still receiving his or her full pension.  Otherwise, any amount over $30,000 (for people receiving a disability pension the income limit is $1,800) must be reduced by lower pension payments to the retiree on a dollar to dollar basis.  That means for every dollar over the limit, the pension payment is reduced by that amount.   This applies to all retirees who have not reached the age of 65.

A pensioner who reaches the age of 65 has no such income limitations when it comes to another public service job in New York State while receiving their full pension.

For hard to fill positions, there is a two year waiver to the income limitations that can be renewed and according to one report from the Empire Center the public sector in New York State has approved over 7,000 such waivers to the income limitations. and have repeatedly renewed the waivers once the two year period ended.

Once a retiree is found to have exceeded the income limitation, the agency must demand a refund for the pension over payments or face prosecution.  In one such case a Suffolk County Police Detective Sargent was found to owe $450,000 in pension over-payments when he failed to report his job to the pension agency for years.

There is no income limitation if the retiree works in private industry since it is not considered "double dipping". This includes working in another State[s, public or private sector

The bottom line, unless you are 65 years of age or older know the rules about income limits about working for public service in another position.  You might be working for free if you make over $30,000 for the year.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Unity Caucus Flyer Does Not Speak The Truth. - They Made ATRs Second Class Citizens.


























My school just received the Unity caucus flyer and I was amused at some of the things they claimed credit for.  Like retaining our pension.  Since when did the State or City propose to reduce the pension for existing members?  In fact, under the Unity caucus we have seen new teachers subject to an inferior pension.   Moreover, didn't the Unity caucus allow the City to reduce our TDA interest rate from 8.25% to 7% and not receive retiree health benefits until they worked 15 years for new employees (from 10 years) for the two days before Labor Day which should never had been given up in the first place?  How about those members who resigned, were terminated, or discontinued, were they made whole?  No, they were screwed by the Unity caucus.Finally, we approved a vastly inferior contract that gave us a measly 10% for 7 years while the City has a 6 billion dollar surplus?

The Unity flyer claimed that they negotiated a reduction in paperwork.  Really?  Ask any classroom teacher if they noticed any change in the overloaded paperwork they are currently experiencing.  How about schools that demand that teachers use an online grading book, which just adds to the data collection and micromanaging by both administrator and parent?

What is most egregious is that the Unity flyer claims how they protected all their members "due process rights".  I guess the 2,400 ATRs are really not union members because the Unity caucus did reduce the ATR "due process rights" with the 2014 contract.  How did they reduce the ATR "due process rights"?  Let me count the ways.

First, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to :"force place" ATRs at schools they do not want to be at due to travel, reputation, and school tone.  In fact, they allowed the DOE to "force place" District ATRs into another district school in the same Borough.

Second, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to terminate ATRs who fail to show up for two mandatory interviews or fail to show up to a new assignment in two days without a medical reason.

Third, only ATRs are subject to a vague definition of "unprofessional conduct" whatever that means and can result in a one day expedited 3020-a termination hearing

Finally, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to observe ATRs with "flyby observations" by field supervisors who observe ATRs with a classroom of strange students and are expected to show their pedagogy.  No wonder many ATRs are being "U" rated and subject to 3020-a termination proceedings.

What should one do with the Unity caucus flyer?  Throw it in the garbage where it belongs.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The DOE Continues To Approve Academic Fraud.



























Well, it seems that disgraced former Principal Kathleen Elvin of John Dewey High School had her charges dropped by the State Arbitrator in her 3020-a hearing because the DOE apparently approved her "easy credit" plan to goose the graduation rate by 13%.  Despite their own OSI investigator's document showing that packets of material, without instruction was used to give students multiple credits that violated State and City "credit recovery" requirements, the DOE approved all the credits and accepted the graduation rate without requiring these students to actually do real work.  In other words, they agreed to the academic fraud of the "easy pass" system. Read the New York Post article Here.

The question that needs to be asked did the DOE realize that if they allowed these students who were academically unprepared to graduate without giving them real courses to make up, that they, in effect, approved Principal Elvin's "easy credit" plan?  Obviously, the State Arbitrator believes so and dismissed the charges against her.  It almost seems that the DOE did everything possible to sabotage their case against former Principal Elvin when they refused to provide an actual audit as evidence against the academic fraud.  Was the DOE's failure to provide an audit simply incompetence or done with the purpose of not exposing the academic fraud that is not confined to only John Dewey High School?  In fact a DOE task force found 36 high schools abused the "credit recovery" system and yet no disciplinary action was taken.

It seems to me that the DOE didn't want their systematic "credit recovery" program abuse exposed at the 3020-a hearing and deliberately sabotaged the case against former Principal Elvin.  Moreover, had the DOE's "dirty laundry" of academic fraud were exposed at the 3020-a hearing, it could mean the downfall of the Carmen Farina Chancellorship and a black eye to Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Finally, it would also show that Carmen Farina's failure to "clean house" of the Bloomberg policymakers that permeate Tweed allowed the academic fraud to continue complete with a bogus graduation rate of academically unprepared students for the real world after high school.

The more the union leadership claims that the DOE has changed the more those changes are an illusion.  It's still the same old Bloomberg DOE.