I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this cartoon in the New York Daily News. There is no secret that Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel Klein have declared war on the UFT and Michael Mulgrew has responded with strong rhetoric. However, to date the UFT has been losing the public relations match in the media. as the New York Daily News, New York Post, and even the New York Times has brought the propaganda that the DOE has peddled that the problems with the New York City Public Schools is the teachers' union. To date the UFT has failed to push back against the DOE and this has hurt the teachers and the union. Let's look at some of the issues that has made teaching in the New York City Public Schools a real problem and why the union must start to push back.
Lack of Educators in Tweed& Bias For Charter Schools
Chancellor Joel Klein's inner circle of eighteen consists of just one educator and it is little wonder there is a real disconnect between Tweed and the schools. Furthermore, these non-educators have been the greatest supporters of Charter Schools and the hiring of high priced consultants for their pet projects while closing existing school. Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News identified the cozy relationship between Chancellor Joel Klein and Eva Moskowitz that appears to have resulted in the closing of both PS 194 and PS 241 and to use the school buildings for Eva Mosskowitz to have as two new Harlem success Academies. In fact an astounding 88% of the readers who responded to the article believed the two actions were connected. How come it took Lonnie Haimson to expose these e-mails that showed this relationship? Where is the UFT publicity machine? Instead we just hear deafening silence. I know I would be yelling loud and clear to the media and the communities how their neighborhood schools are being shut down and replaced by elitist schools in their community that many of the children would not be welcomed in. Where are the full page ads in the newspapers and the commercials on the networks showing Tweed's "children last" program?
The ATR Crises & Overcrowded "Rubber Rooms"/ Age Discrimination
The ATR crises was solely Chancellor Joel Klein's doing as he told principals they did not have to hire excessed teachers and to ensure the principals got the message made the schools subject to the "fair student funding" formula that penalized principals that hired experienced teachers. This is consistent with the DOE's"education on the cheap" program and Tweed's "children last" program. As of next year the ATR crises may by worse than now as there are 19 schools closing and many of the teachers will be excessed, increasing the ATR ranks to over 2,000. A waste of $160 million dollars annually.
Under Chancellor Joel Klein, the number of teachers reassigned to the "rubber rooms" range from 550 to 850 annually. This is a sixfold increase from the pre Klein days. Approximately 90% of the teachers end up back in the classroom. Therefore, why is there such an increase in reassigned teachers if they are only going to be back in the classroom? Simple, because the Chancellor uses the reassigned teachers as a pawn and calls them "bad" teachers which the media picks up on. Presently, the union has failed to push back and show the reasons that the DOE reassigns a teacher. These reasons range from ageism, budget, Principal dislikes & control and union activities. Further, the fact that a reassigned teacher is removed from the school payroll after only 60 days makes it easier for a Principal to reassign a teacher. Include the corrupt investigations that are done against teachers and it is little wonder for the massive increase in reassigned teachers. Another $35 million dollars wasted by the DOE.
Lack of Teacher Control Of The Classroom/ Increased Paperwork
What ever happened to the union's "let teachers teach"campaign? Now as our union silently sits back, many teachers are subject to a one size fits all "workshop model" which only works with a target population and makes it easier for principals to file incompetence charges against teachers they do not like or want. Furthermore, the data accountability and evaluation programs has increased teacher paperwork threefold and the administrators do not allow the teachers school time to do the paperwork. Finally, the micromanaging by administrators has made classroom teaching an increasingly unpleasant occupation.
It is time for Mike (call me Michael) Mulgrew to match his rhetoric with action and really be the "Mighty Mulgrew" in the cartoon that we really need as the leader of our union. Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel keeps on pushing and it is time for our union to push back. Hear that Mike?
In my previous post I took a tongue-in-cheek look at Chancellor Joel Klein's letter he sent to us. Little did I realize how close to the truth my editing was. The Gotham Schools blog printed the September 10,2009 DOE's contract demands and it is not only terrible but disrespectful of teachers. Let's look at these ridiculous demands by Tweed as they practice "education on the cheap" at the expense of the teachers.
No guaranteed salary increase without "givebacks". This is more draconian then the inadequate salary increase of 2% for the first $70,000 that Mayor Bloomberg proposed.
Higher increases for beginning and middle level teachers (0-8 years in the system).
Seniority steps will be changed to a Principal approved definitions of Apprentice, Practicing, Mentor, & Master teacher. In other words, the Principal will determine your salary.
2. Contract Modifications
Reduce the 20 consecutive day time period to 5 days for a teacher's voluntary resignation if a teacher does not return to work after not giving notice for being absent.
Add an extra classroom period for K-8 teachers.
Increase unpaid coverages in the secondary schools from one to six per semester.
Allow Principals to have grade conferences that go past the now existing 3:45pm limit.
Eliminate retention rights for per session activities.
Eliminate all sabbaticals except for health.
reduce sck leave from 10 to 5 days annually.
Termination pay will be reduced to one paid day for every three days in the CAR.
No longer will teachers be paid if they take a day off if their CAR falls to zero.
Eliminate seniority as a basis for excessing and layoffs.
ATR is limited to four months to obtain a position or face removal from the payroll.
No more 20 year exemption for teachers who can be excessed.
3. Discipline & Grievances
All teachers accused of incompetence or misconduct will be removed from the payroll.
Incompetence charges will be changed to make it easier to fire the teacher.
All 3020-a hearings will be held by City appointed OATH judges.
Teachers not reassigned will be given a one day 3020-a hearing.
Eliminate the State mandated three year time limit to file charges against high school teachers when the DOE believes the charges may have been criminal in nature.
All grievances will be done during non-working hours.
There are more outrageous demands dealing with Chapter Leaders, union activity, related provider services, and tenure issues but I am sure you all get the message that Tweed is out to destroy the teaching profession by hiring temporary, non-vested teachers, many of them from the alternate certification program like Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows who will never last the ten years to get a pension or the fifteen years to get retiree health benefits.
What the DOE really wants in their "education on the cheap" policy are disposable teachers who leave the system in an increasingly hostile classroom environment as Tweed's "children last" program continues.
This month Joel Klein blessed us with his junk mail oops, I mean e-mail on how he wants the best teachers. After I read Joel Klein's entire statement, I felt it necessary to change it to what I believe he really means to say. My changes to the Chancellor's e-mail are in bold face type.
Over the last seven years, we have taken steps to bring cheaper teachers to New York City and get rid of them before they are vestedwhile expanding our recruitment but not retention efforts, to raising teacher salaries by the inflation rate and requiring teachers to spend 10% more time in the classroom with three times the paperwork., to creating new lead teacher positions in our high-need schools, to offering housing bonuses for experienced math, science, and special education teachers, to targeting highly paid senior teachers who dare to work together in teams to improve student learning. We have done so because we know that nothing we can do for students matters more than giving the Principal the ability to hire inexpensive "newbie" teachers. Every day, they work saves money.and furthers our "education on the cheap" policy.
As part of these efforts, we have also focused on making teacher tenure more difficult. Tenure marks a new phase in a teacher's career and a new commitment by our schools to those who receive it. Unfortunately, over the years tenure has become an expectation more than an honor. While we have made progress, we still are not doing enough to set a high bar for all teachers, recognize excellent teachers, or withhold tenure from all of those who have not earned it. I have tried to do my best to make the classroom environment as hostile as possible, by getting rid of as many senior teachers as possible through the reassignment process or the ATR systembut have been stymied by the legislature. And a loose tenure system isn't good for anyone-it hurts students, it disrespects successful teachers, and it leaves those who are not up to the difficult job to struggle.
This year, we are making changes to ensure the tenure process treats teachers like the cogsthey are and helps our schools build compliant teams. In November, Mayor Bloomberg asked us to take the long overdue step of considering a teacher's impact on student learning in our tenure decisions. Factoring the results you work so hard (yes, I know I couldn't last in the classroom myself but this is about you not me) to achieve with your widgets eh, students into this decision makes common sense, and it is one of several changes to the tenure process that I would like to share with you today.
The changes we are making to the tenure system focus on three core principles:
1. Rigorous Review: Principals and superintendents will consider the performance of each teacher who is up for tenure more carefully than ever, weighing multiple factors including Teacher Data Reports, where available and appropriate as well as the likes or dislikes of the teacher by the Principal.
2. Transparency: In advance of the tenure decision, principals who do not like the teacher will be encouraged to have open, honest conversations with these teachers about their prospects of receiving tenure and any help in removing the teacher from his/her school.\
3. Accountability: We will hold every principal accountable (lol - I made a funny) for making fair, deliberate and timely tenure recommendations that accurately reflect each teacher's instructional performance.
Our goal is to align tenure decisions more effectively with the results you are achieving every day. But let me be clear: we are not proposing to base tenure decisions on student test scores alone-that would be insufficient. The Principal must like you and you need to never question administrative decisions. It is not about the children but the Principal.. We want to use all of the information available to us-from many different sources such as classroom observations and teacher work products-so that we can make fully informed decisions about each teacher's readiness for career success.
In future years, we will do even more to honor the achievement of earning tenure, especially for those teachers who have truly distinguished themselves. Our goal is to get rid of tenure and seniority entirely This will allow us to build an even younger and more compliant teaching force, celebrate our cheapest teachers, and respond appropriately to older teachers who are not meeting expectations by sending them to the "rubber room".. You can find additional information about the steps we are taking to strengthen our tenure system on the Teacher Page <http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/Spotlight/tenure_letter_2-11-10.htm> .
Thank you, as always, for your hard work and dedication to our students.
Lately, the media and the pseudo education reformers have brought up New York State Education Law 3020-a as being too slow and costly with the average case lasting 502 days and hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, when it comes to how to make it faster and fair, these very same people are short on details or in Chancellor Joel Klein's case is unrealistic and violates State Education Law. Of course if you really want to know what Bloomberg & Klein would like to do to reassigned teachers? Just look at the pictures above. As for the State, their RTTT program in streamlining the disciplining of tenured educators is vague at best and disingenuous at worst. Therefore, the question is how would I streamline the State 3020-a process in New York City?
First, for teacher misconduct cases, there will be an independent investigator who would actually interview everybody involved in the alleged misconduct, including the teacher to determine if the teacher is a "threat to the children". If the investigator finds that the teacher committed "major misconduct" (as defined in the contract - Articles 21G5 & 6 pgs 115-117) or was criminally arrested then the teacher can be removed from the school and 3020-a charges can be filed. Otherwise, the teacher will stay in the school and the worst punishment would be a Letter To His/Her File (LIF). Incompetence cases would be handled differently and PIP+ would be changed to a more independent method where a 90% failure rate is unheard of. No longer would the teacher be subject to the corrupt investigations by the Principal, OEO, OSI, or SCI that usually results in the teacher being unfairly removed from the school. I guarantee that the overcrowded "rubber rooms" would disappear very quickly.
Second, the DOE lawyers must stop extending the hearings by charging teachers with actions that are both frivolous and outright bogus. It is bad enough that the DOE lawyers expand, twist, and embellish the incidents into something that they aren't but they then lengthen the hearings by adding additional charges hoping that some of them will stick. Many of the DOE lawyers will call in any witness that might have a bad word about the teacher even if they are not involved in the charges hoping it will influence the Arbitrator. Moreover, they will violate 3020-a law by bringing up hearsay or accusations against the teacher that are over three years old and never substantiated but claim it as fact. These tactics by the DOE lawyers is simply called "character assassination" and they will use this weapon when they realize their case is failing. The result is that a four day misconduct hearing can last four months!
Third, give the Arbitrator the right to penalize the DOE when during the 3020-a hearings a witness, be it the investigator, Principal, etc was caught lying in their testimony. Presently, there is no consequence for investigators and administrators who are caught lying. If a teacher is caught lying in his/her 3020-a hearing that teacher is terminated. Therefore, there should be serious consequences to testimony found to be untrue and action taken against witnesses that lie. If investigators or administrators knew that their lies can cost them money and even their jobs, fewer teachers would be subject to 3020-a charges and the investigations would be fairer.
Fourth, use the expedited hearing procedure that can be found in Article 21G3 of the Contract (pgs 114-115). According to Michael Mulgrew, this procedure has only been used twice since 2002. The reason the DOE does not use the expedited hearing process is that it does not allow for termination, the maximum penalty is a six month suspension, Despite the basis for a 3020-a hearing that is for the Arbitrator to determine the appropriate remedy for the accused teacher, the DOE's remedy is always termination. Hence, that is why there have been only two
Finally, give the DOE lawyers the right to rescind 3020-a charges. Especially after a teacher is acquitted in criminal court. To my knowledge once 3020-a charges are filed, the DOE lawyer cannot rescind these charges even if he/she realizes that the charges should have never been issued in the first place. Jeff Kaufman on the ICEUFT blog wrote about this only last week and is a must reading for teachers who want to understand the "rubber room" problem.
I am sure there are many other good ideas on how to streamline the tenured teacher discipline process and please put them in my comment section. However, these are the ones I found needs to be reformed.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the tone of our acting President, Michael Mulgrew as he seems to lock horns with our billionaire Mayor and his henchman, Chancellor Joel Klein. However, I have also complained that he has not replaced our failed union leadership that has lost touch with their members, especially the reassigned teachers. Based upon my conversations with two teachers who have contact with the UFT leadership, my complaints seem to be still valid.
I was told by a teacher in the Bronx that he had a conversation with one of the union leaders why the union does not go after the administrators that target teachers or have skeletons in their closet. This union leader who is in the highest rung of the UFT leadership, apparently told the teacher it is our union's policy not to go after a fellow union member from the CSA. The teacher was flabbergasted and said that this so-called union solidarity doesn't work both ways as many teachers are reassigned and receive 3020-a charges by the administrators. The union official responded to the teacher and said that is our policy.
This very same union official encountered a reassigned teacher in the Brooklyn "rubber room" who asked him why the union's tepid response to the DOE directed media campaign against reassigned teachers. Especially the Steve Brill's New Yorker magazine's hatchet job as well as the New York Post Sunday campaign.The union official told the reassigned teacher it is best to lay low and be quiet since it is hard to defend some of the teachers. The reassigned teacher, who has been in the Brooklyn "rubber room" for almost three years without 3020-a charges in violation of the union contract, then told the union official that the UFT must confront the media with their own stories of how the DOE files the most frivolous or bogus charges against teachers who are whistle blowers or who stand up for their or student rights. The union official said that he would look into the reassigned teacher's suggestions. The teacher is not expecting any action in the near future. This reassigned teacher wrote the following to me.
"UFT should not allow letting us twist in the wind of rotten press. There are many shocking stories to be told about reassigned teachers, veritable martyrs of Klein’s inquisition. But the UFT has washed its hands of the least of the brethren".
I may not totally agree with the reassigned teacher but it does appear to me that the union has not stepped up to the plate and have allowed the DOE to demonize the "rubber room" teachers in the media without any push back from the union. Yes, some of the teachers in the "rubber room" are guilty of what they are accused of but what about the other 90% who should never of been removed in the first place and are simply victims of vindictive administrators who care little of union loyalty while being protected by our union's misguided policy of protecting them. No wonder we have a hostile classroom work environment and overcrowded "rubber rooms". With a union leadership like ours, it is no wonder that the administrators feel they can do as they please.
On this Valentine's Day, the cold hearted Chancellor Joel Klein's gift to reassigned teachers would be to stop paying them and giving them health benefits once an Administrator accused the teacher of misconduct or incompetence. Luckily, New York State Education Law requires that tenured teachers be given "due process" and face an independent Arbitrator who requires real evidence not just accusations by a vindictive Principal or a corrupt investigative process. In the DOE mouthpiece, the New York Post, who just can't help themselves in going after teachers with half truths and false accusations here, Chancellor Joel Klein stated the following.
Remove employees from payroll while their cases proceed. "When teachers are formally charged with misconduct or incompetence and there is probable cause to believe they are guilty, they should be taken off payroll pending the outcome of the charges. Exonerated teachers would receive back pay plus interest".
What the cold hearted Chancellor failed to say was that all 3020-a charges meet DOE's idea of "probable cause". Therefore, all teachers subject to 3020-a charges would automatically be taken off the payroll. Interestingly, Chancellor Joel Klein did have some valid ideas to speed up the discipline system. However, he failed to acknowledge that it is Tweed that caused the sixfold increase in reassigned teachers and the average of a two year stay for these "rubber room" teachers in the first place. The complete Joel Klein statement can be found here. To be fair, the New York Post did also allow the UFT president, Michael Mulgrew's statement in which he clearly pointed out how the union negotiated an expedited hearing process in 2002 only to see the DOE use it only twice in eight years! The reason being that the expedited hearing process does not allow for termination with the maximum penalty of a six month suspension. This shows that Tweed only wants to terminate teachers and not remediation as the State Education Law (3020-a) recommends. Mr. Mulgrew further pointed out that the UFT bent over backwards under Randi Weingarten by agreeing to more Arbitrators and a more DOE friendly discipline process (the three month suspension without pay or health benefits based upon hearsay) but the DOE rather supply rhetoric not action when it comes to a real efficient discipline process.
What I was unhappy about Mike (call me Michael) Mulgrew's response was his failure to recommend a fair investigation process by mediators or independent investigators, not the corrupt OSI or SCI investigators and penalties to Administrators who file bogus or frivolous charges just to get the teacher out of the school. However, I do expect when Mr. Mulgrew fleshes out his proposals, these actions will be part of the union's official position.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day by reading the heartless Joel Klein's proposal to take away a teacher's livelihood based upon mere accusations. Thank our lucky stars that the New York State Education Law and our union contract requires "due process" rights. At least for now.
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein opened schools despite many of the outer boroughs having streets that were unplowed and sidewalks that the children walk on being unshoveled. The result was the two clueless non-educators subjected the children to dangerous conditions by forcing many of them to walk in the streets or stay on the sidewalks with knee deep snow as they go to a school where they were put into an auditorium because the majority of teachers could not dig out their cars and took the day off.
Many parents had the common sense that the Mayor & Chancellor failed to exercise by keeping their children safely at home. Here again, not one of the newspapers or other media questioned the Mayor's moronic decision to endanger the lives of the children when many of the roads were still snow covered and treacherous. The real problem is that the idiot Mayor based his decision on two factors, money and the roads in Mdtown and Downtown Manhattan.
The money issue is obvious. Keeping the schools closed a second day would cost the City money from the State and the State money is necessary to pay the salaries of the non-educators running Tweed. The second factor was that the Mayor and Chancellor live and work in Manhattan and the streets around where they live and work are the first ones plowed and the sidewalks are cleared quickly. However, both the Mayor and Chancellor did not see what the outer boroughs looked liked. I was on Utopia Parkway at 7am in Queens and saw children going to Francis Lewis High School and Ryan Middle School walking on the snow covered and icy street as cars came perilously close to them. Other children chose to walk on the sidewalks but many homeowners had not shoveled since the snow did not end to midnight. These children were struggling to walk through knee deep snow. Their choice was dodging motor vehicles and getting hit by snow and ice in the spray or drudge through unshovled sidewalks. Did the Mayor or Chancellor care? Of course not.
Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein's decision was a threat to the children as they continue their "children last" program. By the way my blogger friend "pissed off" also questioned the Mayor's poor decision on closing the schools.
Lately, the DOE has come under fire for its misplaced priorities and questionable policies that hurt the schools and the children they educate. As the pressure was increaed on Tweed, the DOE mouthpiece, the New York Post writes front page articles on long term "rubber room" teachers and twisted the charges against them, here and here. Now the DOE may deny they planted these stories to deflect pressure on their own poor track record. However, it has helped the DOE try to make their case that it is the fault of the teachers union and not Tweed for the waste of money. I posted previously that it was Joel Klein's fault that these teachers have spent up to a decade collecting their full salary, nobody else.
The question is how should the union respond to these attacks on teachers? Simple, attack those administrators and bureaucrats who are either incompetent, not qualified, or selected due to their political connections and write a press release to the media with the evidence to support it. An example of this was done here. The person who made the decision to hire the hypnotherapist, a former Bear Stearns managing director with no experience in education who Joel Klein personally hired for a salary in excess of $100,000 would be one candidate I can think of. Or maybe MychaelWillon, the DOE director of the Principal Candidate Pool who South Bronx School has written several articles about is another. His latest is here . I suspect there are many hires like this in Tweed because of their no-bid and secretive contracting and hiring procedures. Furthermore, many of the principals are not qualified to lead a school and the UFT knows who they are. These principals should not only be identified but the UFT must provide press releases on them. Including these PINI principals in the New York Teacher is not sufficient. Their failings must be exposed to the community and that can only be done through the mass media.
Presently, the UFT under Mike (call me Michael) Mulgrew has continued the policies of Randi Weingarten and has not aggressively defended the defamed teachers sent to the various overcrowded "rubber rooms" nor have they challenged the DOE on the qualification of the people they hire. The teacher union has had war declared on them by Bloomberg and Klein and it is time to strike back hard.
In the good old days for an educator to become a Principal it took many years of working their way up the ladder. First, the educator spent a minimum of ten years in the classroom, earning the respect of his or her peers. Then the educator spent a minimum of five years as an Assistant Principal, which included teaching one or two classes. Finally, the educator was offered a Principal position and while some principals might have had problems with their staff the vast majority of principals were respected by the staff due to their experience as a educator who rose through the ranks. However, than came the non-educators who came to dominate the upper levels of the DOE, lead by Chancellor Joel Klein who turned the New York City public school system upside down and not for the better.
Under the non-educator, Chancellor Joel Klein, we saw the formation of the "Leadership Academy". This program was a shortcut for people who had little or no experience in education to become a Principal, The problem was that these "newbie" principals have no classroom experience and had not worked in a school environment. The result has been a deterioration in principal quality. I previously, wrote about this here. It is these inexperienced "Leadership Academy" principals who have been told to run their school as they please that have caused the ATR crises and overcrowded "rubber rooms". However, the greatest problem is that these principals lack "common sense" as reported by Joanna Molloy of the New York Daily News and that brings me to the two dopey principals at JHS 190 and PS 52 who caused the City extreme embarrassment and ridicule. Remarkably, the Principal of JHS 190 actually defended her actions. Unbelievable! Even the DOE's mouthpiece, the New York Post had an editorial on these stupid principals. What will eventually happen to these principals? Probably nothing but a letter to their file. Yes, principals do get letters to their file. As for being reassigned to the "rubber room"? That's not happening. A recent example of a Principal staying in his school despite overseeing and hiding misconduct was when Principal Michael Soet apparently approved and participated in a rowdy drinking and dirty dancing party in the presence of students at their prom that resulted in sexual misconduct charges against one teacher at the International High School of Lafayette This "Leadership Academy" Principal is still running the school while SCI goes through the motions of investigating the incident over eight months later.
Until we see real educators regain control of the DOE and the principal positions filled by educators who move up through the ranks, look for more dopey principal actions as they are more interested in their control of their power base than what is best for the children of their school. "Children last" continues.
I read with real amusement how the New York Post reported about a teacher, Alan Rosenfeld, who has been sitting in a DOE "rubber room" for almost a decade while collecting his full salary. What the New York Post seemed not to understand is that the real cause for Alan Rosenfeld receiving his full salary for doing nothing for nearly a decade is Chancellor Joel Klein himself.
A little history is need here. Alan Rosenfeld was charged under New York State Law 3020-a by the DOE and he went through a full 3020-a hearing and after the independent Arbitrator heard all the evidence against Mr. Rosenfeld, decided that he was only guilty of one minor charge and gave Mr. Rosenfeld a one week suspension without pay. This Arbitrator dismissed all the remaining charges as being unfounded hearsay and expected Mr. Rosenfeld to be returned to the classroom. However, along came Chancellor Joel Klein who decided that a person like Alan Rosenfeld should not be in the classroom and sentenced him to a permanent stay in the "rubber room". This is known as "Chancellor discretion".
Now I ask you. Who is responsible for Alan Rosenfeld receiving his full pay while spending a decade in the "rubber room"?
Was it the New York State "due process" law?
How about Alan Rosenfeld's somewhat abrasive personality?
Could in be the teacher union contract?
Or was it Chancellor Joel Klein's fault?
The answer? It is Chancellor Joel Klein's fault. If Chancellor Klein didn't want Alan Rosenfeld back into the classroom then he should have offered alternate work. Given Mr. Rosenfeld's experience in rel estate and law, he would have been an asset to the DOE's School Construction Authority and work with the ever-changing legal staff that come and go at Tweed. Mr. Rosenfeld's expertize would have been welcomed in two areas where the DOE has had problems with. I'm sure many of my readers Remember this? How about this? Or maybe this? For Chancellor Klein not to use Alan Rosenfeld's experience is not only a shame but an inefficient use of personnel.
The New York Post once again gets it wrong, the real villain is Chancellor Joel Klein, he and he alone is responsible for leaving a valuable employee who has much to offer in the "rubber room". Tweed's "Children Last" continues.
New York State has written a proposal to reform the teacher discipline system in their flawed and failed Race To The Top (RTTT) proposal. However, the New York State proposal is vague, short on information, and is really wishful thinking at best. The State RTTT proposes to streamline the 3020-a process and of course, appears to lack input from the very members subject to the 3020-a process. School-based teachers and administrators that would be affected were not consulted and it appears NYSUT had no meaningful input into the proposed changes as well. Only non educators, primarily lawyers for the State school districts seem to have developed the proposals.
It is well understood that the 3020-a process is slow moving and in some cases glacial with teachers spending over three years in the process. In fact a study in the New York State Public Personnel Law document published the following information from a MicheileHandzel who is General Consul of the Council of School Superintendents in New York State.
"Mr. Handzel’s presentation cites a recent New York State School Board Association survey covering 2004 through 2008 in which it received responses from 400 school districts. NYSSBA's report indicated that it took an average of 502 days to conclude a full §3020-a disciplinary hearing. The hearing itself took an average of 176 days and there was an average of 136 days between the last hearing day and the date of a decision".
It is quite obvious that 502 days to complete a 3020-a disciplinary process is quite long. However, what Mr. Handzel fails to mention is that New York State Law requires "due process" for tenured teachers and administrators. Therefore, these educators are entitled to a full and fair hearing. What are the major items that Mr. Handzel's legal analysis includes in the New York State's RTTT proposal? They are:
expedite the 3020-a process.
financial incentives to resolve 3020-a charges.
reduce State financial requirements to arbitrators and transcribers.
eliminate a full 3020-a hearing for teachers who are not properly certified.
I really have a problem with the State proposals since they did not explain how they intend to expedite the 3020-a process, or who pays for the arbitrators and transcribers? Furthermore, what financial incentives? Are we talking about the exhortation the DOE uses against teachers with large fines and useless courses or is he talking about real negotiations between the accused educator and the school district? Finally, how does the State define "properly certified"? This must be fleshed out to ensure that certified teachers who might have given a waiver is still considered "properly certified".
Here again, the very groups who are affected by the 3020-a process are not consulted and only non educator lawyers are allowed any input into New York State's flawed RTTT proposal. I am glad that New York State's RTTT proposal is dead on arrival and let's hope it stays that way.