Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For Reassigned Teachers The Union Wants Them To Remain Clueless And Quiet



It is very traumatic when a teacher is reassigned from his or her school for frivolous or minor incidents. What is worse is that our union representatives, rather than being supportive and pushing for a fair investigation of the charges, just tells the poor teacher to "sit tight and don't tell anybody why you were reassigned". Why do they not want the teacher to talk to other teachers about their case? It is quite simple, knowledge is power. The less the teacher knows, the more dependent the teacher is on the union. Many of the union representatives go as far as saying things like. "Maybe the person you talk to will end up as a witness against you" or that "you will be getting bad advice from those teachers". How disingenuous of the union to scare already frightened teachers about not trusting the very people who knows best what is in store for these newly reassigned teachers.

For all practical purposes the union has abandoned the reassigned teachers to their fate. The union does not conduct their own independent investigation nor do they challenge the often biased and unfair OSI or SCI investigations. Rarely, if ever, does the union question the DOE's removal of a teacher or go after lying Administrators or investigators. The union's support is confined to providing a NYSUT lawyer in the eventual 3020-a hearing process, which has seen the union negotiate the erosion of teachers' due process rights since 2000. Even when the teacher is charged under section 3020-a of the State Education Law, the union provides no guidance to the teacher about the process, the Arbitrators and the NYSUT lawyers. According to the union their responsibility is to provide a NYSUT lawyer and the NYSUT lawyer will guide the teacher through the process. How about the union's responsibility to conduct an independent investigation with the Chapter Leaders and District Representatives to find out if the teacher removal was proper? What about the union's responsibility in providing the NYSUT lawyer ammunition to help the targeted teacher in his or her defense? How about the union determining the collateral damage to the teacher's students? I could go on but you get the message.

It is very unfortunate that the union position about the reassigned teacher is to abandon them and keep them clueless and quiet as they languish for years in the "rubber room" awaiting their fate. Shame on the union and their leaders that have looked the other way as the "rubber rooms" fill up with over 50 year old teachers whose only fault is that they are old and make too much money. I will end this post with one of my quotes.

"A union that allows it's members to be disrespected, is a union that no longer deserves the respect of it's members".

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chaz

Thanks for writing this. Among the most remarkably pathetic advice I have heard directly from the mouths of NYSUT attorney's are:

1. Do not ask for a public 3020a hearing as this will put the pressure on the arbitrator to split the difference even if you are innocent.

2. Don't speak about your case to your colleagues.

3. Don't make this public and 'embarrass the district'.

4. Don't speak to your witnesses prior to their testimony as the opposition will claim you coached them or tampered with them.

5. Settle..settle...settle (actually, in the interests of full disclosure I can't say I heard this one personally - but have heard so many reports and received such a wacky settlement offer in my case that even the opposition thinks NYSUT urges this).

6, Complete non-responsiveness to clear evidence indicating opposition witnesses 'deliberately misrepresented material facts under oath'. This is the definition of perjury.

I believe publicity, especially when the charges themselves are pathetic, can help the teacher and embarrass the principal. They should be embarrassed. The embarrassment does not harm the teacher. NYSUT merely pretends it does.

Finally, NYSUT's legal strategy frequently seems to boil down to this: Cross examine to damage the credibility of witnesses and call into question the legitimacy of evidence. This non-investigative strategy seems almost designed to 'split the difference' rather than win cases.
A word to the wise - be your own investigator and report your findings AFTER you have investigated to your attorney and make him/her follow up in cross examination. Do not ask permission of your NYSUT lawyer. You can always play dumb later since you are not an experienced litigant. Use your trusted colleagues to 'get' or 'find' evidence for you. I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

I'll keep this anonymous although you may know who I am.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are saying. The first thing I did when I came to the rubber room is find out everything I can about how this procedure works. Everyone should talk to teachers who have gone thru the process to know what to do. Don't be ashamed, the doe should be ashamed, not you! The union doesn't want you to ask questions, but you have the right and should ask every question you can think of. Hold your head high!

Anonymous said...

Chaz

I am the first anonymous. Among the weirdest happenings of my entire 3020a occured when my school district rep (think Chapter Leader in New York City terms) told my local NYSUT labor specialist I had told him about my case. Well, she immediatly contacted the NYSUT attorney handling my 3020a who immediatly contacted me. And I mean immediatly. My NYSUT attorney's urgent message was 'stop talking about your case'. My answer, "why?...I want people to know about this pathetic case and I want the district to drop it and I want the teachers marching in my defense and I want the local paper to write about it and I know the opposition lawyer does NOT want me to talk about it" The lawyer's answer: "Well if you talk about your case and waive confidentiality then the district can talk about your case". My answer, " Not true...and I want the district to talk about my case..it is so pathetic it will embarrass them". My NYSUT lawyer was upset at my answer and had no response to it. Apparently my NYSUT lawyer thinks teachers are lost little sheep.
I then devised my own little strategy: When I needed to talk to my NYSUT attorney (and they are frequently buried in other cases) I would leave a message alluding to a discussion I was about to have with a friendly witness or another teacher. You would be surprised (perhaps not) how quickly I would get an email or phone call!

Chaz said...

Anons:

It is important to compare notes with other teachers who are involved in the 3020-a process, To stay clueless and quiet is playing into the hands of both the DOE and UFT.

Teacher 4ever said...

Way to go Chaz! you are correct, the only reason the union tells the teacher not to tell anybody is because they want to control the information stream.

Many times I have found the correct information after I tals to teachers who went through the process. My union rep was near worthless when it came to obtaining the proper information in my case.

Chaz said...

It is too bad that some union reps are more interested in protecting the union interests than the teachers they represent.

Woodlass said...

It's interesting the way all of you describe the kinds of responses you can expect from NYSUT lawyers and DRs, because what you report is true at the lower levels of disciplinary actions also.

With LIFs and allegations, we are constantly seeing DRs trying to find procedural mistakes the principal has made, or the wording of an LIF, or whether certain administrators can be delegated to do this or that in a principal's name.

I can say categorically that I have never heard a DR advise anyone to expose principals for the distortions in substance, the omissions they choose to make, and the liars that too many of them are.

Chaz said...

Woodlass:

From Randi on down to the DR's, they don't care about the teacher, only their power base.

As for going after Principals. Show me one Principal that has been removed by the DOE for making false allegations. The answer, of course is none!

Woodlass said...

History has proven you right about the power base.
They'll deny it, of course. And foam at the mouth defending the purity of their intentions.

Chaz said...

Woodlass:

I am not an ICE member. However, I do believe in many of their platform issues and voted for their Presidential candidate. Until ICE & TJC can turn the elementary school teachers against Unity I will long be retired before any change occurs.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the union suits and their involvement in the torment of teachers:

they do not look the other way, ignore what is happening, or behave in a lazy and/or neglectful manner.

They are right in there with the DOA (Dead on Arrival) "educators," colluding with them in the destruction of human lives. They are an integral and vital element in the annihilation of meaningful education and the ruination of thousands of lives.

Regarding grammar: "IT'S" mean "it is."

When you write, "ITS," you are using the possessive.

It would be a heartening development if teachers wrote intelligent, literate and correct English.