Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Difference Between Getting An Unsatisfactory And An Ineffective Rating.

Before there was a teacher evaluation system, educators were rated on the "Unsatisfactory/Satisfactory" scale.  If a teacher received two consecutive "Unsatisfactory" ratings for incompetence, the DOE had the right to proceed with a 3020-a to terminate the teacher.  However, the burden of proof was placed upon the DOE to show that the teacher was truly incompetent.  The result was that in many cases the DOE would rather settle for a small fine and a course on pedagogy rather that go through the frustration of proving the educator was incompetent.  In a few cases it took three consecutive "unsatisfactory" ratings before the DOE actually put the teacher through the 3020-a process.  That changed in the 2007 contract as the DOE and UFT agreed to the "Peer Intervention Plus" (PIP+) that resulted in the DOE providing an "expert witness" against the teacher and with it a 90%+ termination rate.   Thanks to this blog and others the Chapter Leaders got wise to the PIP+ termination program and told the members not to take it since its a voluntary program.

For most teachers, except those with less than two classes, reassigned back to the classroom before November, or are in the ATR pool..  The teacher evaluation was imposed with the four categories of "highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective".  Two consecutive "ineffective" ratings will allow the DOE to take the teacher into the 3020-a process with the burden of proof placed on the teacher and not the DOE, if the peer valudator finds the teacher was ineffective in the classroom.  The result is almost certain termination.

What about if the DOE decides to take a teacher into a 3020-a hearing with an "unsatisfactory"  rating followed by an "ineffective" rating?  Since there is no two consecutive "ineffectives" the burden of proof shifts back to the DOE.  This is also true if the peer valudator finds the teacher is not ineffective and the DOE is then forced to defend their "ineffective" rating.  By the way, based upon a one year data base, only 30% of the teachers were found by the peer valudators not to be ineffective!  That means that 70% of the teachers are probably toast at the 3020-a hearing.

Obviously, the DOE's Office of Legal Services can file 3020-a charges against any teacher who receives one negative rating, especially for misconduct but for incompetence cases its extremely rare for the DOE to go through the cost and effort only to get a token "award" by the Independent arbitrator without documenting a teacher improvement plan and show all the measures taken to help that teacher and that usually is a two year process. Therefore, for simple teacher incompetence cases it takes two or more consecutive "unsatisfactory" ratings or "ineffective" ratings before the DOE will file 3020-a charges.

Better an "unsatisfactory" rating where the burden of proof is on the DOE than an "ineffective" rating where the burden of proof is on the teacher.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Our Members. Part III, The APPR.

Back in 2010 President Obama and his basketball playing buddy, Arnie Duncan, dangled $4.4 billion dollars to the States if they would link teacher evaluation to the Common Core standards, this was labeled Race to the Top (RttT).  Eventually 48 States took the bribe and the leader was New York State, which received $700 million dollars, thanks in a large part to the UFT who supported the State proposal.  Interestingly, none of the money actually went to the classroom but was used to develop the high-stakes Common Core tests, pay for consultant fees like Pearson, and to evolve  the "Junk Science" as part of the teacher evaluation system. Did our union even bother to poll the members about what they thought?  Of course not.  The union leadership knew that the members would have voted overwhelmingly against RttT, yet the union leadership supported this ill-fated venture and  UFT President Michael Mulgrew even stated that he would punch Common Core critics in their face! Yes, the very same Michael Mulgrew who claimed victory when the City was forced to evaluate teachers on 22 components of the Charlotte Danielson rubric when the Bloomberg Administration only wanted 7, yet Michael Mulgrew claimed victory again when it was reduced from 22 to 8, go figure.

Across New York State parents are "opting out" their students from the destructive high-stakes Common Core tests and on Long Island 50% "opted out" with 75% doing so because of the teacher evaluation tie-in.  Yet our UFT President did not support the "opt out" movement despite the State teachers union (NYSUT) doing so.  The reason is that our union leadership supports the APPR and is willing to throw some teachers to the wolves as long as the union leadership gets what it wants for themselves, the power to do as they please.  Already 70% of the teachers subject to peer valudators (the rat pack) in the approved teacher evaluation system have been deemed "ineffective" and since the burden of proof is now placed on the teacher rather than the DOE as in the past, expect most, if not all of them to be terminated in their 3020-a hearing. Of course Michael; Mulgrew claimed victory yet again despite Michael Bloomberg outmaneuvering him by getting the APPR without negotiating a contract as promised by our leadership.

Finally, our UFT President claimed victory one more time when the new APPR now requires the "Junk Science" to be 50% of a teacher's evaluation and even allowed the Democratic leadership who dominates the State Assembly to vote for it. With friends like Michael Mulgrew and his cronies who needs enemies?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Chancellor Carmen Farina Kept 80% Of The Bloomberg Managers At The DOE.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio became Mayor and appointed Carmen Farina as Chancellor, most educators were hoping for a "spring cleaning" of the Bloomberg agenda at the DOE.  However, it was obvious that many of the Bloomberg managers and their agendas remained relatively untouched by the new administration.  Now Chalkbeat has reported that an astounding 80% of the Bloomberg era managers are still at the DOE and in the same or similar positions that they occupied under Bloomberg.  Is it little wonder why the teacher in the trenches see little change in the hostile classroom environment or the "gotcha mentality" that presently exists?

Despite the continued love affair between Chancellor Carmen Farina and UFT President Michael Mulgrew little has changed when it has come to DOE policy.  Michael Mulgrew claimed at the Chapter Leader conference that the Chancellor could not remove them too rapidly because they are protected.  Protected? My question since they are managers and at will employees how are they protected and couldn't the Chancellor remove them to positions that didn't include implementing policy? Of course she could and as for policies?  The destructive "Fair Student Funding" is still in place,  the ATR crisis continues unabated, and the bloated DOE Central Bureaucracy is still dominated by lawyers and data mining managers.  Is it any wonder that the recession era school budgets have remained frozen the last two years despite more money from the State and a City budget surplus of almost 6 billion dollars!  It appears the extra funding simply feeds the DOE bureaucratic bloat and never seems to reach the classroom.

The Bill de Blasio administration has failed to live up to his promises in reducing class sizes, bringing respect back to the teaching profession, and providing adequate resources to the schools and the classroom.  Worse than the Mayor's failure to live up to his campaign promises is his failure to change the tone at the DOE and improve working conditions for school staff by selecting a Chancellor who has proven to be part of the problem and not a solution to improve schools and raise teacher morale.  The Chancellor's ill-advised decision to keep 80% of the Bloomberg era managers and their destructive policies at the DOE is simply poor management and a failure to improve the New York City Public Schools.                      

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Out Of Time Schools Are Out Of Luck When It Comes To Getting Effective Teachers.

Chancellor Carmen Farina made a great show of propaganda by claiming the renewal schools will be recruiting "effective teachers" for their schools and improve student performance.  However, anecdotal evidence from staff at these schools saw only young and inexperienced teachers being hired at those schools not the "highly effective teachers" that the DOE had vetted and gave to the principals to hire.  Few, if any, actually were offered or took a teaching position in the renewal schools.

Now we have the first real data from one renewal high school, the "out-of-time" Brooklyn Automotive high school.  Of the 32 teaching positions at Automotive, 14 were filled by teachers who were never in the classroom before that is an astounding 44% of the teaching staff with zero classroom experience!  Furthermore, if you eliminate the eight highly specialized CTE teachers in hard to fill or hard to replace occupations, approximately 60% of the academic staff are "newbies'.  Who in their right mind believes that these struggling students will improve academically with inexperienced teachers who have a steep learning curve and poor classroom management skills themselves?   No real educator believes that this is a recipe for success.

While the renewal schools are being given additional resources and support, the bottom line is that the lack of "effective teachers" will result in continued poor academic achievement and I strongly believe that the Mayor's and Chancellor's renewal school policy will be a failure.   A final issue is that the renewal schools have an extra hour built into their student schedules and teachers who are working the extra hour have not been paid by the DOE as of yet,  This should have been resolved before the school year stated.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For The Members Part II, The Contract.

During the Weingarten/Mulgrew years the contracts negotiated by the "Unity caucus" has been short on money and long on "givebacks".  The recurring theme by both Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew is that we did the best we could when it came to compensation but totally ignored the "givebacks" by stating that they were minor when it turned out they were significant.

The first contract negotiated by Randi Weingarten was in 2000 and the members received a 16.22% pay increase for three years (November 2000 to June 2003).  Sounds good?  However, it came out to 5.4% a year but inflation was approximately 3%, which gave the members an effective 2.4% raise annually.  However, for this raise, the 2000 contract contained a few significant "givebacks".  First, all members had to work an extra 100 minutes each week,  Second, the 3020-a process was revised and a New York City version no longer allowed for a three arbitrator panel for incompetence cases or allow the educator to reject an Arbitrator and formed a three team unit that hurt educator representation.  Finally, while not part of the 2000 contract, Randy Weingarten allowed the incoming Mayor Bloomberg to take control of the school system by agreeing to Mayoral control in 2002. That has worked well.

The second contract negotiated by Randi Weingarten was the infamous 2005 contract that gave us raises of 14.25% for 52 months or 3.75% annually, barely exceeding inflation (3.5%) while allowing for massive "givebacks".  Read them Here!  This terrible contract brought into existence the ATR , the lengthening of the school day by 37.5 minutes and the elimination of the seniority transfer system, while per session rates remained frozen. A year later the DOE imposed the devastating "fair student funding"and had Randi Weingarten objected, tje DOE would have backed away.  Instead the great appeaser refused to take it to PERB or court as a violation of the collective bargaining contract and allowed the ATR pool to explode with veteran educators as the new policy encouraged principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.

The third contract negotiated by Randi Weingarten was relatively benign compared to the other we received a 7.1% raise for two years and gave back one significant item.  The establishment of the Peer Intervention Plus (PIP+) that turned out to be termination program for teachers accused of incompetence with a 90% or greater termination rate.  Also was the expansion of the probable cause statute that allowed the DOE to remove educators who were arrested for fighting and other potential ferlonies to be taken offline without pay or health benefits for 90 days.

The final insult Randi Weingarten left us was the reduction in our TDA from 8.25% interest on our funds to 7% in the fixed allocation for the retaining the two days before Labor Day that Randi gave up previously in the infamous 2005 contract. For another take read my post.

Michael Mulgrew's first negotiated contract followed in the footsteps of Randi Weingarten by getting an inferior contract that is short on compensation, 10% for seven years and one month or a 1.38% annual raise!  Yes he got back our two 4% raises but most of it will be given to the members between 2017-20 and members who resign or are terminated do not get it.  In turn, he agreed to make ATRs second class citizens with reduced "due process rights".

With the "Unity" caucus negotiating our contract look for future contracts that are short on compensation and long on "givebacks".

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The DOE Failure To Take Action Against Willian Cullen Bryant's Administration Smacks Of Corruption.

Here will go again.  The New York Post published a report showing how the school administration stiffed their students and failed to pay them for summer work to fix and upgrade the school's computer system after promising to pay them for their work.  When the Chancellor was contacted by two students complaining they were stiffed, the DOE's response was to send the emails back to the Principal who scheduled a discipline hearing and put the two students at risk, just incredible!  The DOE informed the Post that they are now investigating the accusation, why not when the accusations happened?.  How many DOE investigations are there on William Cullen Bryant High School and why is Principal Namita Dwarka still in charge?  The answer is simple, the DOE investigations are corrupt!

William Cullen High School has seen a mass exodus of veteran teachers leave the school through retirement, resignation, and the few lucky ones who transferred to other schools despite their salary.  The school's teaching staff mainly consist of inexperienced teachers and in some subjects like Earth Science are not certified to teach the subject.  Furthermore,due to the administrative actions students passing the Regents physical Sconces (Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics) have dropped 20 points in the last few years. If I look at the rest of the subjects, I'm sure there are similar drops.

When it comes to Principal Namita Dwarka the list of accusations against her are mind boggling as she continues to run this once great school into the ground.  Yet the DOE has repeatedly failed to take any action against her or remove her for the sake of the students and staff alike.  This is just another case of the DOE's corrupt investigation process when it comes to disciplining favored administrators.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Their Members - Part I, The Classroom.

This post is the first of a six part series on the union's failure to improve the hostile working conditions that the New York City public school teachers are subject to on a daily basis.  Long gone are the days when Albert Shanker was willing to strike to ensure that the teachers were respected and protected from vindictive administrators and destructive policies from City Hall.  Now we have an unaccountable and disconnected union leadership who uses member funds for their own political ambitions and wear blinders when it comes to the abuses of the Bill de Blasio/Farina administration that continues to make teaching in the classroom a living hell.

During the Bloomberg years it was understandable that the union was ineffective in improving the classroom environment considering who was running the union (the great appeaser, Randi Weingarten) and the hostility of the Bloomberg administration, in fact, the classroom environment actually deteriorated with rising class sizes,  inadequate resources, and paperwork overload.  Moreover, every contract negotiated with the Bloomberg administration contained "givebacks" and the pitiful raises came with extra time or other significant concessions by the union.  Unfortunately, during those years the steadfastness of Albert Shanker was replaced by the wuss Randi Weingarten who, for raises that barely equaled the inflation rate saw the member due process rights eroded and the classroom environment worsen.  However, when Bill de Blasio replaced Mayor Bloomberg the union leadership under Michael Mulgrew started a love affair with the new Mayor and his Chancellor, Carmen Farina, and promised the members that there will be significant improvements in the classroom.  A new era of collaboration was to bring back the respect and cooperation between the DOE and the teachers in the trenches. Yeah right, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

It has been two years since the Bill de Blasio administration has been in charge of the DOE and little has changed in the hostile classroom environment.  School budgets have been frozen since the Bloomberg Administration despite the economic recovery in the City and huge budget surpluses.  Large class sizes, the highest in the State, has not been reduced as promised by the new Mayor when campaigning for his position, and many of the Bloomberg policies remain in place that encourages principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students.  In fact, many of the Bloomberg 300 that run the DOE and implement policy are still in there positions and further damaging education with their education deformer mandates.  Yet our disconnected union leadership will proclaim that things are improving as Michael Mulgrew continues his love affair with Chancellor Carmen Farina, while the terrible classroom environment remain unchanged.

As we start the 2015-16 school year class sizes are as large as ever, many incompetent and vindictive principals are still running their schools into the ground, and the paperwork reduction promised by our union leadership remains unfulfilled.  The school budget is frozen and resources are scarce.  In some schools teachers have to supply their own photocopy paper and materials that should be supplied by the schools.  Moreover, the punitive Chancellor regulations of the Bloomberg administration have become more stringent and student discipline relaxed.  The result is an overcrowded classroom and classroom management issues that make learning difficult and worsen the classroom environment.

Yet, the disconnected union leadership would have you believe that there is a new era of collaberation between the DOE and UFT but don't tell that to the teachers in the trenches, to us its still the same hostile classroom environment that the union refuses to see or do anything about.