Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Sad Saga Of Ex- Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah.

Back in  April of 2014, Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah of Robert Wagner Secondary School in Queens was removed as a Principal for allegedly sexting on her DOE laptop and cell phone.  According to the Post article, she had sexually suggestive and racy pictures of herself, including alleged sex acts  Moreover, there were emails that she had oral sex with a visiting assistant principal and a school safety officer, at the school.  Finally, she sent damming emails to a high ranking DOE official.On May 1, 2014 she was demoted back to a teacher,

The following week, the visiting assistant principal, Danny Velezquez of PS 5 in the Bronx was also reassigned away from his school.  According to the New York Post article, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah claimed she never had sex in the school with any of the men and that her ex lover, the PTA President, lied

Despite supposingly being reassigned away from students, Ms. Annie Schumuiz Seifullah resurfaced as a teacher at Automotive High School in Brooklyn but soon fled the classroom when the students googled her and read all the racy stuff about her.  The DOE tried to claim it was a mistake  However, the New York Post quoited a source who said the following:

“Principal Lafergola would not go to the bathroom without checking with Aimee Horowitz,” the source said. “This was not an error. This was cronyism pure and simple — at the highest level.”

After, Ms. Annie Schumutz Schullah fled the classroom the DOE decided to file 3020-a charges.

Surprisingly, the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) decided that Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah's actions were not serious enough for them and the investigation was sent to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) who, despite two men claiming she had sex at the school (her ex lover, and the DOE official) , incredibly found that their was no substantiation of her having sex in school. Go figure!

Just before her 3020-a termination hearing was to start, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah took a six month medical leave that was due to her fleeing the Automotive High School classroom caused by the harassment.  There was no indication if this was a paid or unpaid leave, according to the New York Post article.

What might be the end of this sad saga, on December 1st, the 3020-a arbitrator suspended Ms. Annie Schumultz Seiullah  for a year, primarily for her sexting on a DOE cellphone and photos on the DOE laptop,  Interestingly, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah did not testify and the reason the arbitrator gave her the one year suspension.

Note:  Te Daily News has a slightly more sympathetic article and she intends to appeal her one year suspension

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Teacher Classroom Supplies Deduction Retained By The New Tax Plan.

The GOP tax plan, will probably be signed next week and become law for the 2018 year and beyond.  This is bad news for people who live in high tax states like New York since only $10, 000 can be deducted from local property raxes or State and Local income taxes.  In the NYC suburbs property taxes alone usually exceed $10,000 alone.  Many New Yorker's pay about 7% in State taxes and if a New York City resident, then add an extra 4%.  Its not uncommon for a New York City teacher who lives in the area to have over $20,000 of combined property and State and Local taxes.

However, there is one feature that the GOP tax plan remains unchanged, that is the $250 deduction given to teachers for classroom supplies.  While the average teacher spends $530 for their classroom and in high poverty areas its $672.  The teacher deduction at least helps to reduce the financial burden for teachers to supply classroom materials to their students.

While the GOP tax plan is an overall negative for education, at least the tax plan retains the teacher deduction for classroom supplies.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Safe Schools? Yeah Right! - Part 3.

 The Bill de Blasio/Carmen Farina narrative that our schools are safe has been shown to ring hollow.  Weapon confiscations have skyrocketed and staff and students feel more unsafe.  Previously I wrote posts about the school safety issue and you can find it Here and Here.

Now NY1  has an article about safety transfers and found that the official numbers were disturbing and the article believes it was severely under counted.  According to the article the top five schools that had the most safety transfers were as follows:

DeWitt Clinton..........................20
Life Science Secondary HS.........18
Bronx Leadership Academy........17
Abraham Lincoln.......................17
Health Opportunities HS............14 

Remember, to even apply for a safety transfer the student and or parent must actually file a police report.

But the transfer numbers provided to NY1 do not tell the whole story. In the 2015-2016 year, students had to produce a police report showing they were the victim of a crime just to request a transfer.

Therefore, many students who are bullied, subject to gang violence, or who have been physically or verbally assaulted, keep it to themselves and never report the danger to the school administration, police, or their parents.    

After the stabbing and death of a student at the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation High School in the Bronx.  Up to 30 student asked for a safety transfer at the school.  How many will actually get on.e?  According to the DOE, all of them, we will see if that turns out to  be true Since the school stabbing and killing happened in the 2017-18 school year, it was not included in the NY1 article.

Until Bill de Blasio and Carmen Farina confront the truth the schools are increasingly unsafe, students will be asking for safety transfers as they refuse to be bullied, subject to gang violence, and physically threatened with little corrective actions from school administration.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

School Based Fair Student Funding Discriminates Against Veteran Teachers And Hurts Student Academic Achievement.

There is little question that the DOE's use of school based fair student funding has hurt student academic achievement by making it difficult, financially,  for schools to hire veteran teachers and far too many schools have teaching staff with little experience and steep learning curves.  More importantly, the academically struggling and Renewal schools suffer the most as few veteran teachers are hired and the remaining veteran teachers leave those schools for either retirement or a better teaching environment.

When school based fair student funding was proposed by the DOE in 2005, the UFT understood the implications that it would cause an explosion of veteran teachers in the ATR pool and warned the DOE not to impose such a system.  However, instead of aggressively confront the DOE and stop them in their tracks, the UFT leadership meekly allowed the DOE to do as they pleased.  The result is a continuous group of 1,200+ teachers that are excessed and due to their age, salary, and seniority, they cannot obtain a permanent position.

With the imposition of fair student funding principals were now incentivized to "hire the cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school.  The Open Market System is simply a joke for veteran teachers as fair student funding penalizes principals who want to hire a highly skilled veteran teacher.  Moreover, "newbies" are prized because they will actually lower the school's average teacher salary and if they don't work out or leave, so be it, there are other "newbies" to take their place.  Finally, every year between 4,000 and 5,000 teachers leave the system, yet the ATR pool remains stable as the few ATRs who retire are replaced by teachers excessed due to closings and downsizing or won their 3020-a termination hearings.

Please go to Bryan Glass's web page.  the teacher's Lawyer, and fill out the questionnaire, if you are an ATR as a potential class action discrimination lawsuit may be filed if enough ATRs fill out the questionnaire. 

As long as the DOE uses school.based fair student funding, discrimination against veteran teachers will continue and that's not good for student academic achievement.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The 300 Member Negotiating Committee Is Only A Fig Leaf.

Our union leadership is organizing a 300 member negotiating committee to help with the next contract that starts in November of 2018.  However, if past history is a lesson, the 300 member negotiating committee is simply a fig leaf as the real negotiations will be dictated by a select group of our union leadership who cares little about what the rank and file wants.

Anybody who believes that our union leadership will listen to the 300 member negotiating committee's recommendations, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn t sell you.  Moreover, when it comes to pay raises, the UFT will be subject to "collective bargaining" and since DC37 is presently negotiating with the City on a three year contract with very modest's a safe bet that whatever DC37 settles for will also be applicable to the UFT.  Finally, the State unions are getting 2% raises and that will also factor into the final contract the UFT negotiates with the City.

The bottom line, I expect a two or three year contract with modest raises of between 1.5% and 2% yearly and hopefully,  no "givebacks". Presently, the City has a surplus while the State has a budget deficit and can afford to give us higher rises but  won't.  I would be shocked if the total UFT contract raises exceed 4% for two years or 6% for three. Let's hope that the small raises will not have to be self funded by increased health care co pays or other "givebacks".

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The NYC Racial Achievement Gap Widenes As Students Get Older.

A decade ago Mayor Micael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein proclaimed that their education reforms had significantly narrowed the racial achievement gap.  Of course those claims turned out to be "smoke and mirrors" as the primary cause was the State drastically lowering cut scores and providing questionable rubrics on the State tests that eventually led to the removal of the State Education Commissioner Mills.  When the State redid the tests the following years it showed that the racial academic achievement gap actually widened and led to the resignation of Chancellor Joel Klein as Mayor Bloomberg, embarrassed that his education reforms were a mirage , pressured Mr. Klein to leave.

Now in a new study by the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO), the report shows that as children advanced from third to eighth grades the racial achievement gap between Asian and White students grew, when compared to Black and Hispanic students.  The study tracked 71,000 third graders back in 2008 and ended the study in 2013, when the students were in eighth grade. This time period encompasses part of Michael Bloomberg's second term and all of the third term as Mayor of New York City.

The report shows that the Bloomberg/Klein education reforms to narrow the racial achievement gap was a failure and in fact, widened over time as the students advanced to the next grade.  Here are the six takeaways of the IBO report.

  1. Black and Hispanic students started far behind. 
  2. As they got older Black students fell further behind.
  3. Hispanic students made slight gains in English but not Math,
  4. By eigth grade Asians led the back in both English and Math,
  5. Black boys were at the bottom of the list.
  6. Girls out did boys in Math for all races.
Read the IBO report and its obvious that the racial achievement gap is not only real and persistent but widens as the students move up in grade   At least the IBO report doesn't blame the teacher for the poor academic results in high poverty minority schools.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

DOE's ATR Placement Policy Is A Failure - Part 2.

Last month I wrote a post that suggested that the DOE's ATR placement policy was a failure, which was based upon anecdotal evidence.  Now Charkbeat has published data, supplied by the DOE that confirms my previous post. According to the Charkbeat article only 41 ATRs were permanently placed since October 15th.  That is only 10% of what the DOE anticipated with their ATR placement policy.

Interestingly all 41 ATRs who were permanently placed were excessed due to school or program closing and not due to disciplinary or legal issues.  Which strongly indicates that the ATR assignment folks keep at least two separate lists of ATRs.   Moreover, the DOE admitted that the ATR pool consists of 1,202 educators and not the 822 that they claimed previously.  Finally,  their claim that the 1,202 numbers is 20% less than last year is false   Last year's number was 1,304 and that means the actual reduction is not 20% but 7%!

Another interesting item is that the DOE has admitted that principals would have to agree to permanently hire the ATR and would not be assigned without the approval of the Principal.  A clear win for  the principals.

The bottom line the more things the DOE claims to change, the more they stay the same. The DOE's ATR placement policy is a failure.