Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Small Schools That Replaced The Large Comprehensive Schools Are A Failure.



























During the Bloomberg years, the city came up with the bright idea, advocated by Bill Gates and then abandoned as not the answer, that closing the large comprehensive schools in poor communities and replacing them will smaller schools will improve student academic achievement.  These small schools will show an improved graduation rate and "college and career readiness" rates.  Well the graduation rates did improve, thanks to "credit recovery", Principal pressure, and questionable grading policies.  However, the "college and career readiness" rates cannot be manipulated and these rates show how much a failure these small schools have been.

Lets look at the 2013-14 school year "college and career readiness" scores of the small schools that replaced the large comprehensive schools in Queens.  The citywide average is 32% while the average in Queens is 36%.

Andrew Jackson High School Campus:

Business Computer Application and Enterpriseship........4%
Law, Government And Community Service..................9%
Humanities and Arts Magnet School..........................5%
Math, Science Research Technology Magnet..............19%

Franklin K. Lane Campus:

Brooklyn Lab School...............................................11%
Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep....................................11%
Multicultural..........................................................2%

Far Rockaway Complex:

Fredrick Douglas Academy VI....................................7%
Information, Research And Technology........................8%
Academy of Medical Technology................................21%

Springfield Gardens Campus:

Queens Preparatory Academy..................................18%
George Washington Carver......................................30%
Excelsior  Preparatory High School............................21%
Preparatory Academy For Writers.............................31%

Since the Beach Channel and Jamaica high schools have closed this year, the small schools that inhabit the campuses are new and were given extra money and allowed to exclude "high needs students" from the schools to ensure that they succeed.  Therefore, they were not included in this post until there is a real track record for them.

The relatively high "college and career readiness" scores of the small schools at the Springfield Gardens complex will rapidly drop as the data reflect the last year of the new small school exclusion policy that kept low achieving students from being accepted to the schools which is no longer the case.

For comparison what were the "college and career readiness" rates of the large comprehensive high schools that the Bloomberg administration tried to close but failed to get court approval?

August Martin........................................................6%
Flushing...............................................................20%
Grover Cleveland...................................................17%
John Adams..........................................................12%
Long Island City....................................................29%
Newtown.............................................................14%
Richmond Hill........................................................11%
William Cullen Bryant .............................................33%
...
The average "college and career readiness" scores of the eight large comprehensive Queens high schools, slated for closure but spared by the courts is approximately 18% while the small schools created at the closed large comprehensive high schools averaged only 14%.

If one uses the "college and career readiness" scores, its obvious that the small schools carved out of the closed large comprehensive high schools have not shown any real academic improvements.  In fact, that might be even worse once the small schools have a longer track record and cannot exclude "high needs students"as the Campus Magnet schools (Andrew Jackson Campus) have shown..




Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Field Supervisor From Hell.



























This is a true story that has happened this school year.  I have kept the names of the teacher and field supervisor out of this post to protect the ATR from retaliation.

The story starts innocently enough.  The field supervisor, a retired middle school principal from the Bronx, formally observed the teacher in her contact area (Biology) and gave her a "satisfactory rating".  End of story?  Not quite.

A month later the field supervisor showed up for an informal observation while the teacher was assigned to cover a foreign language class.  The ATR was given work by the absent teacher to hand out to the class.  She handed out the work and walked around the room to make sure the students were on task.  While she is not a foreign language teacher she did offer assistance to students who seemed to be struggling with the assignment.  The ATR took attendance and because some students arrived quite late to class, the ATR took the time to take attendance again to ensure accuracy.

At the end of the class the field supervisor told the ATR that her classroom pedagogy was "unsatifactory".  Why you ask?  Here's why according to the field supervisor.

First, he wanted the teacher to expand the teacher directed assignment beyond the material given to the students to complete, despite the ATR having no real knowledge of the subject.

Second, the field supervisor complained that some of the students were not on task and were talking.  Really?  How unrealistic is it for an ATR who has never seen these students before, expect them to exibit perfect behavior.

Third, The field supervisor claimed the lesson was disjointed.  However, the lesson came from the absent teacher and not the ATR.  How can he blame the ATR for somebody else's lesson?

Fourth, taking attendance twice was a waste of time.

Finally, the field supervisor saw no common core or rigor in the lesson.  Really?   Didn't the lesson come from the absent teacher?  What was the ATR to do, ignore the lesson and risk being insubordinate or follow the school's direction and hand out the absent teacher's assignment?  Moreover, the ATR is a Science teacher and how can she add common core based rigor in a subject she has little knowledge of?

This abuse of the observation process by the field supervisors must stop and the ATRs should only be observed in their content specialty.  Being observed in a subject that the ATR is unfamiliar with is wrong and harmful which must be stopped by the union.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Mutual Consent Provision Does Not Apply To ATRs.




























One of the changes in the DOE hiring process was the "mutual consent" provision that our union unwisely allowed back in the infamous 2005 contract.  The "mutual consent" provision allows principals to determine who to hire for their schools and can refuse any teacher sent by the DOE for any or no reason whatsoever.  In other words the Principal must consent to have a teacher assigned to their school and can remove the provisionally appointed teacher whenever they want, be it one day or at the end of the school year.

However, when the it comes to the ATR rights, there's no consent as the ATR is "forced placed" against their wishes.  What happened to "mutual consent" when it comes to the ATRs?  If an ATR refuses a provisional appoinment or leave replacement they are assumed to have voluntarily resigned.  No ATR consent is necessary nor is one required.  You take it or else you lose your job.

Already the DOE tried to "force place:" me in a Middle School.  Thankfully, since I am a licensed High School teacher the union was able to cite a violation of the contract to get the DOE to rescind the "forced placement".  However, this very same school is setting up mandatory interviews and making high school teachers do demo lessons when these interviews are not mandatory!  The union must be proactive and put a stop to this abuse at once.

If the Chancellor wants "mutual consent" then the consent must be mutual for both sides and ATRs should have the right to refuse an assignment if the fit is not right. That's only fair.

Monday, November 17, 2014

South Bronx School Will Be On The Radio Tomorrow.





















South Bronx schools, awaiting his 3020-a hearing, will be on WFAS 1230 tomorrow morning.  I'm sure he will talk about his upcoming 3020-a hearing and the DOE charges they hope to terminate him with.

This case is interesting since his Principal had apparently written an email back in the summer of 2012 to her assistant principal discussing how to charge the satisfactory rated teacher with incompetence in the next year.  Yes, the following year and that, to me, is premeditation!  You can see the email Here. One would think that the 3020-a arbitrator will not look kindly at the DOE's case once the Principal's incriminating email is put into evidence and hopefully allow South Bronx to continue teaching.

If you have the time South Bronx's radio interview will be at 6:35 to 7:20 am tomorrow morning.  Please listen. If you cannot get the station on the radio then its streamed live.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The DOE Bureaucratic Machine Is Broken And Only A Complete Overhaul Will Fix It.



























Educators have known for years that the DOE is dysfunctional and broken and is need of a complete overhaul.  There was a momentary hope that the new De Blasio administration would appoint a Chancellor who would sweep out the Bloomberg era policy makers.  However, the new Mayor appointed Carmen Farina who has been a major disappointment, to say the least.  She has retained the Bloomberg 300 and even promoted Bloomberg era holdovers such as Kathleen Grimm, known as the "Grim Reaper". for her part in closing many of the large comprehensive high schools in the city.

To many of the schools, little has changed, with frozen budgets, the continuation oi the useless and
money sucking "Children First Networks", and the top down management from the bloated bureaucracy, full of high salaried managers and high priced consultants.  The disappointing Chancellor has not reduced the obscene number of people in the accountability and legal departments that exploded during the Bloomberg years   Moreover, her failure to eliminate the perverse "fair student funding": formula that has resulted in principals having to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school and to allow for the continuation of the ATR pool have added to her disappointing tenure as Chancellor.  Finally, in an effort to squeeze every dollar out of an already tight school budget, she has failed to reduce class sizes or hire the proper amount of school staff, be it teachers, guidance counselors, and librarians at the expense of their students' academic achievement.

Unfortunately, Chancellor Carmen Farina's tenure has resulted in little change from the Bloomberg years and the DOE remains bloated, dysfunctional, and lacks transparency.  Furthermore, the excessive paperwork required by the DOE for their mindless data mining projects continues and the hostile classroom environment still exists to this day. Until the DOE's bloated bureaucracy is  completely overhauled, don't expect any real change in the classroom and student academic achievement.

update:  The DOE has finally taken its first steps in eliminating the useless technology called ARIS.  A $95 million dollar failure in which only 16% of teachers and 3% of the parents actually bothered to use the system.  This was Joel Klein's baby and the DOE kept it despite its obvious  failure.  An added bonus is that Joel Klein's company Amplify, will also lose their contract to service ARIS that has cost over $10 million dollars since 2012.  The Daily News article is Here.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Its Time For ATRs To Have Their Own Chapter.


Before the signing of the new contract, the UFT said the reason there was no need for a Chapter for ATRs was that the ATR was transitional and temporary and that once Mayor Bloomberg was gone the ATR situation would be resolved.  However, instead of the ATR crisis being resolved, under the new contract the ATRs are now a separate class of educators and in too many cases, are no longer temporary or transitional. Now, the ATRs have different rules when it comes to interviews and discipline and are afforded  reduced "due process rights".

For example if an ATR misses two mandatory interviews or not show up to work for two days, they will be considered to have voluntarily resigned.  Moreover, if an ATR shouts in the halls or refuses an administrator's order to do more than one circular six chore, the ATR is accused of "problematic behavior" and if two consecutive principals say so, the ATR is terminated after an expedited one day 3020-a hearing, or the DOE so hopes is the case.  Finally, the UFT and DOE have agreed to allow field supervisors to give "unsatisfactory observations"  to ATRs who are not teaching in their subject area and have faced a class for the first time that day.  Therefore, it's necessary for the ATRs to have one of their own to represent the ATRs at the Executive Board,  Delegate Assembly, and at Chapter Leader meetings.

As of November 11, 2014,  the Absent Teacher Reserve Alliance (ATRA) was formed to push for such ATR representation at the UFT.  This group is open to all and includes all of the different caucuses, ICE, New Action, MORE, Solidarity, and yes even "Unity". The elected President of the ATR Alliance is James Eterno, a past Presidential candidate for the UFT and one of the most knowledgeable UFT members when it comes to member contract rights.  Mr Eterno will meet with a committee of five elected Borough  representatives to discuss issues concerning ATRs and the ATR process and advocate for fair treatment for all ATRs.  Furthermore, the ATR Alliance (ATRA) will give guidance, advice, and prepare grievances for any ATR who has been wronged by the school or field administrators.

All ATRs past, present, and future are encouraged to join the ATR Alliance and give us a voice in protecting our rights as educators.  More information on how to join and who to contact will be published in this, the UFTICE blog, and DTOE Blog as well as other NYC education blogs.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Some Schools Manipulate The Graduation Rate.



























During the Bloomberg era, high schools quickly realized that it was politically important for the administration to show improved graduation rates and in fact the graduation rates did improve.  However, it had little to do with improved student academic achievement.  The improved graduation rates were manipulated by the school administration by using tricks that hid the lack of real academic success.  The schools used phony "credit recovery courses" that not only lacked rigor but gave out essentially free credits.  Moreover, principals were known to pressure teachers to change failing grades to passing and if the teacher refused, they did it anyway.  Finally, many students who had poor attendance records were deemed to have "dropped out" and were no longer included in the graduation rate.

Because of the abuses in the "credit recovery program" and scrutiny in the dropout rate, schools were unable to manipulate the graduation rate.  But wait, the schools found a new method to increase their graduation rate and that is to encourage under credited students to transfer out to alternative schools and get them off their books.  How common is it?  Well the new Principal of Boys and Girls high school has already pushed 30 students out of his school and into into the transfer school in the building. With a student body of 729 students, that's 4% that will no longer be counted in the school's graduation rate. A Bronx Principal admitted that he removed 100 students in four months to improve the graduation rate because that is what Tweed wanted to see.  How many other schools are doing this?  I bet quite a few.

This is just another way of showing improved results when the reality is that there's no real academic achievement occurring at these schools.

Children last....always!