Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Why I Can't Support Black Lives Matter.

In a reaction to police injustice how young Black men were treated an organization was created called  "Black Lives Matter".  This group was a vocal advocate of treating the young black men with the same respect as all other people,  However, the Black Lives Matter group slowly morphed into a political organization and seemed to move away from their roots.  While the Black Lives Matter movement still had a focus on anti-police action when they could exploit incidents that show the police abusing their authority and rightly so.  The movement has also taken an ideological slant that is quite disturbing to me.

For example the Black Lives Matter movement supports the Boycott Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) organization against Israel, an anti-Semitic movement dominated by pro Palestinian and far left fringe groups. Over the last couple of years and especially after the Ferguson Missouri incident.  Black outrage against the police resulted in the rise of a new group called Black Lives Matter to represent them.

Black Lives Matter has a foreign policy fact sheet and only identifies one country for criticism, Israel and calls the country an‘apartheid state’ committing ‘genocide’.  Yet, there us no mention of Syria, which kills thousands of its civilians with chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and rapes children.   Back Lives Matter fails to mention Iran, a sponsor of terrorism.  How about North Korea or Burma?  Read it for yourself Here.

Despite the historic alliance between Blacks and Jews, Black Lives Matter has joined the Anti-Semitic  far left fringe groups in attacking the only Jewish State in the world, Israel.  That is why I cannot support Black Lives Matter.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Post Janus New York.

The unions, lead by the UFT, is sounding the alarm about what the Janus decision will do  to public unions.  Granted, the unions will lose the right for mandatory dues checkoff and data from Michigan shows that approximately 20% of members refused to pay union dues when the State banned mandatory dues to the unions. These members who refuse to pay their fair share of union dues but still must be represented by the union are known as "free riders".  How will it affect New York State public unions?  Here  is my best guess.

In a post Janus New York, unions will still have Civil Service protections in the form of the Taylor Law.    The Taylor Law requires that Municipalities must bargain in "good faith" with unions.  That includes arbitration, meditation, and hearing of grievances.  It also penalizes unions who participates in work stoppages or strikes.

One of the most important amendments is called the Triborough amendment.  The Tribourough amendment requires that all municipalities cannot change work rules or alter the last contract. until a new contract is negotiated with the union.  That means that once a contract lapsed, all the provisions of that contract stays in force until a new contract is agreed upon by the union.  You can read my take Here.

As for the UFT?  They have a political action wing that relies on voluntary contributions called COPE   Therefore, if you believe our union leadership that no union dues pay for political or social causes, then the reduction in union dues colected will have little or no effect on union contributions to politicians since COPE funds are unaffected by Janus.  Therefore, any future contract negotiations with the City should not be significantly affected by the UFT receiving less union dues, despite the scare tactics the union leadership will employ on their members.

When the UFT comes knocking at your door and tells you what Janus can do to the union's power and our benefits, TAKE WHAT THEY SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Tier VI Teacher Retirement Game Is A Sucker's Game.

The Tier VI retirement game is based upon reasonably conservative assumptions on how difficult it is for a Tier VI teacher to reach their goal of full retirement benefits.

The Tier VI teacher retirement game requires one dice (die) and depends on the law of probability.  Based on the assumptions used for the game, only 9.2% of all Tier VI teachers will be able to reach the goal of full retirement benefits.  That's one out of every 11, not good odds.  The assumptions used in the Tier VI retirement game are as follows:

The first  step is to reach the 10 year vesting period necessary to receive a pension.  Based on the Manhattan Institute report on Fairer Pensions, only 33% of all New York City teachers (Mostly Tier IV) will last long enough in the New York City Public Schools to be vested for a pension.  This is a conservative assumption since the study was done before the New York State Teacher Evaluation System and the use of the Charlotte Dainelson rubric that is used as a weapon against teachers. Other cities report percentages in the teens and that will probably be the value for Tier VI teachers in the future.

Next, for those 33% of Tier VI teachers that are vested, the next goal is obtaining retiree health benefits,  To achieve retiree health benefits the Tier VI teacher must have 15 years in the system,  Since this is only 5 years over the pension vesting period, I assumed that only 17% of Tier VI teachers will not achieve that goal.

To get to the maximum percentage (1.75%) to calculate the 5 year Final Average Salary (FAS), the Tier VI teacher must have a full 20 years in the pension plan.  Otherwise the FAS is calculated using a 1.67% factor rather than the 1.75% factor once they completed their 20 year of service.  According to various studies, only 67% of the teachers (Tiers 1 thru 4) actually reach the 20 year threshold if they had completed 15 years This is true in New York City where veteran teachers are targeted.  Therefore, in the Tier VI retirement game I conservatively used 67% of the Tier VI teachers who reached 15 year of service will last another 5 years to the 20 year goal of maximum percentage when calculating their five year FAS.

Finally, to reach full retirement benefits and a maximum pension, the Tier VI teacher must reach 63 years of age.  Otherwise they are subject to an age reduction factor of as much as 48%!  Only 50% of Tier VI teachers who meet the  above criteria will reach full retirement age.

Is it any wonder that a Tier VI teacher has the odds stacked against them as they strive for full retirement benefits?  If you play the game you only have a 9.2% chance of achieving your goal and that's probably close to what will happen as the Tier VI teacher moves closer to retirement in in the year 2032 and beyond.

The bottom, line is for Tier VI teachers, reaching full retirement is a sucker's game.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mayor Bill De Blasio Is More Like Michael Bloomberg.When It Comes To Education Policy.

When Bill de Blasio was a candidate for Mayor he positioned himself as the anti-Bloomberg.  His campaign promise was to reduce class size, bring respect to the teaching profession, and  no more closing schools.  To be fair, Bill de Blasio did live up to his promise in limiting charter, schools, appoint an educator as Chancellor, and to cooperate with the UFT on a new contract,  However, in the first term Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a Joel Klein Deputy Chancellor (Carmen Farina) who turned out to be more the problem then the solution as she kept 80% of the Bloomberg era policymakers and picked Superintendents on who they knew rather than what they knew.

Ask the teachers in the trenches if the classroom environment is different now then under Michael Bloomberg and their answer is a resounding no!  Class sizes are far too large, Charlotte Dainelson is still used to evaluate teachers, and 3020-a charges against educators remain high and essentially unchanged, when compared to the third term of the Bloomberg era.

In addition, the "gotcha philosophy" is still the theme of the day and the DOE still goes after veteran teachers, either by their fair student funding policy or by Charlotte Danielson as administrators used the rubric as a weapon to force senior teachers to either retire or face 3020-a charges. The ATR pool continues to exist with 1,300 ATRs still without a classroom, despite candidate Bil de Blasio's intention of placing them in vacancies when he became Mayor.  Finally, the racial/income achievement gap is as large as ever.  Another example of Mayor Bill de Blasio becoming more like Michael Bloomberg is he forced one of his PEP appointees to resign after she voted not to close two Far Rockaway schools.

In some ways the Bill de Blasio administration is worse.  He allows cellphones in the schools despite evidence that student cellphone use reduces academic achievement.  He also limited student suspensions and is a supporter of restorative justice instead.    The result is the most students feel less safe in the schools. The lax student discipline code is a disaster.  Read the NYC  kids pac report for all the promises that Mayor Bill de Blasio broke in the 2016 Mayoral report card..

The bottom line Mayor Bill de Blasio is becoming more like Michael Bloomberg and that can only increase he already low morale of the classroom teacher and hurt the students down the road.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Will The New Chancellor Eliminate The Bloomberg Ideology That Permeates The DOE?

Starting in April, the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza, will take over the New York City school system.  Obviously, any substantial changes will have to wait till the next school year,  Hopefully, he will do what Carmen Farina failed to do and that is to "clean house" at the DOE.  Carmen Farina was as much the problem rather than the solution as she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers.  Already, Carmen Farina has transferred her close friend and failed Renewal Superintendence, Amiee Horowitz. to a position she will still oversee after her retirement. I can only hope that the new Chancellor will get rid of the many Bloomberg era policymakers that has made the DOE the enemy of the classroom teachers.

In particular, Mr. Carranza should eliminate the destructive Fair Student Funding formula that discriminates against veteran teachers.  Worse yet, the schools are only funded at between 88% to 90% of their fair funding while the DOE's Central Bureaucracy was cited by Controller Scott Stringer for increasing their expenses by 24% since 2012, while teacher overhead increased by only 12%.

Bring back unit based hiring that will encourage principals to hire veteran teachers without being penalized in their budget while eliminating any financial advantage to hire "newbie" teachers as it is presently.

Eliminate the ATR pool by allowing ATRs first choice in vacancies in their district.  No teacher outside the district can be hired until all ATRs in the district are placed.

Reduce class sizes and ensure properly certified teachers are teaching in their content specialty.

Have a "zero tolerance policy" on academic fraud and eliminate the "double standard"when disciplining teachers and administrators.

Finally, the new Chancellor should reach out to the teachers and not just the union leadership as Carmen Farina did.  The new Chancellor should allow teachers to teach the way that is best for their students and not be micromanaged by administrators.  Furthermore,  eliminate the Charlotte Dainelson rubric for evaluating teachers and reduce observations from 4 to 2 a year.  Finally, eliminate the useless and worthless PD that makes Monday and Tuesday a living hell for teachers.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Carmen Farina's Flunky, Amiee Horowitz, Gets A New Job.

Amiee Horowitz a close colleague of Chancellor Carmen Farina was rewarded by the outgoing Chancellor by being appointed to lead an initiative to help schools who share buildings.  To me it appears the Chancellor, in trying to protect her close fried, and decided to have Amiee Horowitz work on the initiative that Ms. Farina will be involved in after she is no longer Chancellor.  You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.

Why do I think as I do?  Let's look at all the negative issues associated with Amiee Horowitz.

First,  as the District 20 Superintendent she tried to railroad an untenured teacher who reported Regents cheating.  Instead of simply discontinuing the teacher, Amiee Horowitz tried to file a C-31, a license re vocation.  You can read the teacher's story in my article on cronyism over competence.

Second, under Amiee Horowitz, a Renewal School, Flushing High School was caught in a massive Regents cheating scandal.  What did Ms. Horowitz do?  Nothing, nothing at a;;.  you can read the sickening details Here.

Third,  as the supervising Superintendent of the Renewal Schools she put many of her friends in administrative positions, many of them failed principals and administrators. In fact, the Renewal program was top heavy with administrators while the schools continued to struggle academically,  You can read it here,

Finally under Amiee Horowitz, the Renewal Schools ended up hiring "newbie" teachers, rather than experience educators and the academic results were predictably poor.  The post is Here.

Just like a "bad penny" Amiee Horowitz continues to show up in high level DOE positions at the expense of real education experts.   Here are more stories about Amiee Horowitz.  Here and Here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Why Many UFT Members Are Conflicted About Paying Dues. However, ATRs Are Not.

New York City Educator wrote on his blog why we all should be paying union dues when Janus is settled.  He correctly points out why union representation is important and despite the arrogance of the union leadership, we must stand together.  I considered myself a loyal union member and help other members with their issues.  However, its hard to be loyal to a union who's leadership cares more about themselves and political favors than the members they are supposed to represent.  As an ATR I am furious how we are treated as second class citizens and if you came out of discipline, an untouchable,  Moreover, the ATRs have no chapter representation and cannot request a change of schools.  Finally, there is no mutual consent as the ATR cannot refuse an assignment.  Let's not forget the field supervisors as well.

The DOE treats the ATR as if they are "bad" or unwanted teachers as the DOE fair student funding policy makes hiring veteran ATRs financially unappealing.  The union leadership, rather than pushing the DOE to eliminate this unfair policy, looks the other way.  Notice how the ATR issue wasn't addressed by the UFT on negotiating the next contract?

When three out of four union members didn't even bother to vote in the last union election,  How many will voluntarily pay their union dues?   60%, 70% or 80%?. Who knows?  However, when it comes to the ATRs   I suspect the majority will refuse to pay their union dues since they feel the union leadership has failed to properly represent them.

While NYC Educator is right that we need a union to protect our hard won gains, the problem is that our union leadership does not deserve the respect from the members, especially the ATRs who have been betrayed time and again by the self-serving Unity leadership.

Read ATR Adventures blog for how most ATRs feel about the union leadership.