There is little doubt that the Mayor4Life, his Emperor, Michael Bloomberg and his puppet Chancellor, the unqualified Cathie Black, have made a full court press in trying to split the teachers by age and experience. Their cynical complaints that seniority in the form of "last in, first out" will harm the children is not only baseless but is just a blatant attempt to further their "education on the cheap" policy that would advance their goal of a replaceable teaching staff. By having such a teaching staff, few teachers would qualify for a pension or retiree health benefits. This would save the City large amount of money in pensions and the ever-increasing health benefits. The ex-Chancellor Joel Klein admitted as much when he was quoted by UFT President Michael Mulgrew in saying ‘I’m going to pit new teachers against older teachers and I’m going to do it by trying to make it look like we’re doing layoffs''.
Bloomberg stated that if he could eliminate seniority, it would be good for the children since he would need to layoff less teachers, keep the best, and eliminate the ATR pool. However, what he fails to say is who would determine who is an "effective teacher"? We all know the answer, it is the Principal. Therefore, a teacher's continued employment will primarily depend on how he or she gets along with Principal and not what the parents or students feel about the teacher. In the Bloomberg/Klein era parent complaints were ignored and students were used as a tool to advance their propaganda against school staff.
That brings us to the stooges at the Excellence4Education, who were formed by two "newbie" ex-teachers who are now independently paid by the Bill Gates foundation through the Al Sharpton/Joel Klein misnamed Education Equity Project. They think of themselves as a force or reform but what they are is a divisive force that plays the fool for the Bloomberg Administration. They want everything that Bloomberg wants, elimination of seniority ("last in, first out") , merit pay, a teacher evaluation system, and an ATR time limit. All of these positions are contrary to the union's position and is well-aligned with the Bloomberg Administration and the non-educators at Tweed. What about class size? How about the studies that show it takes a minimum of five years to be an "effective teacher" and eight years to plateau at their highest teaching level? What about inept and incompetent Administration. E4E is very quiet about these issues.
I am sure we have all noticed that the teacher evaluation process does not presently involve peer review and based upon the "double standard"the DOE uses between teacher and Administrator, you can guess that a teacher has just as much chance to prevail against a vindictive and insecure Principal out to get him or her then a falsely accused Soviet citizen had in the "Stalin Show Trial". I bet that whatever teacher input that is eventually allowed in the teacher evaluation process will simply be a "fig leaf" for the Principal to do what he or she wants.
"Children First"? Don't make me laugh, it is simply all about saving money, ageism, and a reduction in future benefits paid to retirees. Let's say it as it is "children last" in the Bloomberg/Black campaign to implement their "education on the cheap" policy.
It has become very apparent that Mayor4Life, Emperor Michael Bloomberg is marshaling his forces to attack "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) based upon seniority during layoffs. This attack started with Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City speech where senority protections for teachers was one of his main points. Since that time we have seen the news media publish opinion pieces and editorials blasting seniority-based LIFO. For example the ex-chancellor and #1 hypocrite Joel Klein, along with Michelle Rhee blasted LIFO in a New York Daily News opinion piece yesterday Here. Next we have the "fifth columnists in E4E who are funded by Gates, Sharpton and Klein to advocate against LIFO. The New York Post has jumped on the bandwagon by writing a very favorable article about E4E without mentioning the founders no longer teach full time (they allegedly sub one day a week) and are paid a salary by outside Ed-deformers. The New York Post's very slanted article even insinuated that ICE member Jeff Kaufman supported them. I found that highly unlikely and I hope Jeff demands that the New York Post give him equal time to explain his position on E4E. To further attack LIFO the New York Post allowed the E4E founders to write an opinion piece explaining their position on LIFO, among their other equally objectionable programs.
It is now time for Michael Mulgrew to show how strong our union is by not only bringing all unions together to ensure that seniority-based LIFO is "dead on arrival" when it goes to the State Legislature but that he expose why the Mayor4Life wants to get rid of LIFO and the other civil service protections union workers have. What are they? Let me show you.
Who Evaluates The Teachers?: Presently, there is no acceptable evaluation method and under New York State's "Race To The Top" such an evaluation method needs to be worked out with the union. Therefore, according to the City, only the Principal will be consulted to determine who should be laid off. Can you imagine that you are an "effective teacher", the students thrive in your classroom but the Principal does not like you because you are.
a school leader (Chapter Leader, School based Leadership, etc).
Not the right culture (you get the message).
Age Discrimination: What is left unsaid in the seniority-based LIFO attack is that principals will almost always favor young teachers because they are cheap and less likely to know their rights. To further encourage principals to hire young teachers the DOE has this "fair student funding" formula that actually penalizes principals from hiring older and highly-paid teachers. Take a look at the average age of teachers who are now ATRs and in the"rubber rooms"back in 2009.
Leadership Academy Principals: Would you want these clueless in the classroom (some not even tenured teachers) principals determine if you are effective? How about having Iris Blige determining your fate? Get the message?
Replaceable Teaching Staff: It is no secret that under Bloomberg and Klein they want to see a 100% turnover in the teaching staff so they cannot get a pension or retiree health benefits, since there is already a 50% turnover, it makes sense to start rating experienced teachers "ineffective" and terminate them before they are vested and cost the City money.
Michael Bloomberg's attack on teachers is simply part of his policy to save money and not what is best for the children. Anybody who believes differently is clueless indeed. For Bloomberg it is not about the children its about the money.
One of the many rumors that is going around the NYC school system is that there will be an ATR time limit for the next school year. This rumor seems to have originated from the Bureaucrats at the "Children First Networks" (CFN's) as many teachers and school administrators have brought back these rumors. This has caused many of the ATRs to contact the union about the rumors of an ATR time limit and have been reassured that there is no ATR time limit. However, some in the union leadership have been less than forthright about the union's steadfastness in making sure there will not be an ATR time limit in the future. These union officials have claimed that the union may not be able to stop an ATR time limit as time goes on. Really? Let's investigate if this claimby certain union officials is really true?
My investigation starts in 1982 when New York State passed the Triborough Amendment as part of the Taylor Law that requires the employer to keep the existing contract in place until a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated with the union. That means that even if the DOE demanded an ATR time limit it cannot get one without the union's agreement. Therefore, the only way there could be an ATR time limit is if our union caves and agrees to one. In other words, there cannot be an ATR time limit without the union's approval. The DOE created the ATRs and it is their fault, nobody else's that we have an ATR crises. The union would be doing a disservice to its members by letting the DOE get away with the mess they created in the first place. Under Randi Weingarten, the great appeaser, the union has given up many of our rights for a raise that barely kept up with inflation. Now we have Michael (don't call me Mike) Mulgrew who has privately claimed that he will be much tougher with the DOE and City when it comes to its members. What bothers me is he has essentially the same Weingarten lackeys surrounding him with a history of failed accomplishments. Only time will tell if his actions equal his rhetoric.
That brings us to Emperor, Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg who thinks that he can just simply change the rules that govern the unions. Unfortunately, for Bloomie the New York State laws that govern the Civil Service and public employees are not for sale, unlike the New York City Mayoral Election, the combined might of the unions make any changes that weaken civil service protections are "dead on arrival". Therefore, the Mayor can rant and rave all he wants but if he indeed goes ahead with teacher layoffs, it will be "last in, first out". Therefore, look for the City to magically come up with the money to save the "newbies" just like he did for the unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black by giving her 10 million dollars for test tutoring. However, no matter what the Mayor wants, he cannot impose an ATR time limit.
I hope this post puts to rest the fears of the 1,400 ATRs in the system that there will be an ATR time limit since only the union can allow one to be implemented and of cause the union would never do this to their members. Right Michael Mulgrew?
Well we are now under the Administration of the unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black, and nothing has changed when it cones to disciplining Administrators. The latest example of this is brought to you by the "Principal from Hell". Ms. Iris Blige, Principal of Fordham High School of the Arts who was allowed to keep both her job and stay as Principal of the school despite being found by a school investigator for trying to falsely terminate teachers and deny them their livelihood. The DOE, rather than try to fire her, in what would appear to be an iron-clad case with at least two Assistant Principals and numerous teachers ready to testify against her, cut a deal and paid a $7,500 fine without pleading guilty to the charge. Just unbelievable but business as usual when it comes to the DOE. This is just another example of the DOE "double standard" which allows administrators relatively free passes to continue in their positions while attacking teachers and demanding termination who do much less, if anything at all.
The New York Post reported today that the Principal targeted a dozen teachers for "unsatisfactory ratings" and eventual termination without cause. Gotham Schools has the entire OSI report here. and is interesting reading.
This is not the first time this "Principal from hell", Iris Blige has made the news. Back in March of 2009, she was cited and criticized for the high teacher turnover that occurredunder her leadership and was reported in Gotham Schools Even the New York Teacher via the Rubber Room Reporter wrote about her underhanded and sleazy intentions about going after people and even had a "hit list" of teachers she wanted terminated. On the other side of the teacher spectrum, Education notes online wrote about one teacher who was removed to the "rubber room" simply because she pissed off Ms. Blige and is a must read Here. She was subject to a protest demonstration outside the school by disgruntiled staff and students back in March of 2009 that made the local news.
Ms Blige is one of the first graduates of the infamous "Principal Leadership Academy" that wastes 10 million dollars annually and is just another shinning example of the inferior leadership this money-wasting Academy produces. Maybe that was where the mysterious 10 million dollars that Mayor Bloomberg gave to Cathie Black for test tutoring came from? One can only hope so. However, let's go back to Principal Iris Blige.
Ms. Blige was known to target Chapter Leaders in particular and earned the unions ire which named her a member of their exclusive PINI Principal list. JD2718 named her school as one of the schools that teachers should not apply to and rightly so. Until the DOE gets rid of these PINI Principals like Iris Blige, their claim that they are trying to provide a quality education to the students is just a fraud. The DOE just continues in their "children last" policy when it comes to the students where these principals are in charge of.
Our ex-Chancellor Joel Klein has already put in his retirement papers so that he can get his $34,000 pension. Yes, the same pension that last month he criticized as being too generous for teachers and hurts the schools. The Daily News broke the story in today's paper and also titled it "Height Of Hypocrisy".
Joel Klein taking the money when only weeks ago he stated that the teachers' defined benefit pension as being a budget buster and should be made less generous. is just hypocritical.
This is just another example of our ex-Chancellor following his "do as I say not what I do" program. Sure he deserved the pension but so do the teachers. How dare he tell teachers who worked the same amount of time he did as Chancellor and whom would get approximately $7,000 annually, as being too generous for the school system. What a hypocrite! Thee right thing to do was to refuse his pension until the NYC school system recovers from the devastating and recurring budget cuts that he imposed on the schools while protecting his non-educator buddies and their high priced consultants at Tweed.
Joel, you have done an excellent job in your "children last" program and the "education on the cheap" policy. Therefore, you justly deserve the pension and to further increase the budget problems for the NYC schools.
Our unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black put her foot in her mouth by claiming that the way to handle classroom overcrowding was for parents to practice birth control. Not only was this an insensitive remark but has racial implications as many poor minority parents are told to limit the amount of children unless they can afford them. She further shoved her foot deeper into her mouth when she told the same audience that when it came to budget cuts she was faced with a "Sophie's Choice". I guess the loser in the Education budget cuts are to be exterminated in a Nazi death camp. What a gruesome thought. She then compounded her stupid remarks with keeping schools open and telling parents, students, and staff to show up while canceling her trip to a Staten Island school because of the ice and snow. Just unbelievable!
Remember, the unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black never went to public school, she went to a private school with low class sizes and high tuition while her children were sent to boarding school with even lower class sizes and astronomical tuition that only the elite can afford. Furthermore, Cathie Black has no educational experience and doesn't even have a master's degree, a necessary requirement according to New York State regulations. However, her puppeteer, Mayor Bloomberg managed to obtain a waiver from the State which was unfortunate for the New York City Schools. You would think the Mayor4Life would be embarrassed by the unqualified Chancellor's actions. However, he defended Cathie Black by saying that we all say things that are taken out of context or regret how it came out. Even the New York Post Wrote an Editorial calling on Cathie Black "to put a lid on it, Cathie". Further, the Post comment section which is usually supportive, universally panned her idiotic statements.
Now if Cathie Black was a teacher that teacher would have been brought up on charges for making a raciest statement under the Chancellor's Regulation A-421 for Verbal Abuse and would be subject to the DOE's investigative arms of OEO and/or OSI. Moreover, the use of the "Sophie's Choice" comparison to budget cuts would lead to charges of Anti-semitism and an insensitivity to how Jewish students feel about what happened to their people during the Nazi period. I suspect the Mayor4Life would have demanded that the teacher be removed from the classroom and be fired. However, Cathie Black is the Chancellor and Mayor Bloomberg hand-picked her. Therefore, instead of firing her, The Mayor defends her. Too bad he doesn't use the same standard for all those teachers who had to go through their disciplinary and termination hearings for allegedly doing a lot less.
I guess it is good to be Chancellor since you are not accountable for your actions, no matter how stupid they are.
In some of my posts I get comments from anonymous people on why if teachers are innocent, then why do they get fines, and even suspensions in their 3020-a hearings? That is a very good question and this post will answer that question. The answer is in fact, very simple. The NYC version of the 3020-a process is geared not to acquit educators. Let's look why that is the case.
New York State 3020-a Process: First, what is the 3020-a State Law? The 3020-a State Law requires that any school district who wants to fire an educator for alleged incompetence or misconduct must present their case in front of an impartial arbitrator, paid for by the State, and will hear from both sides who can present evidence and witnesses to prove or defend their case. This is called "due process" and stops school districts from filing frivolous or bogus charges since it can cost $250,000 or more to go through an entire 3020-a hearing process. In the State version of the 3020-a hearings, the Arbitrator and the school district lawyer are not familiar with each other and the 3020-a Arbitrator is more likely to acquit or terminate the educator, based on the evidence, or lack thereof. However, the NYC 3020-a process is different.
New York City 3020-a Process: A decade ago the UFT and the DOE decided to "streamline" the 3020-a process by assigning Arbitrators to a panel to hear the New York City educator cases (Article 21G2 pg 116 of the latest teacher contract). The Arbitrators selected served for a maximum of a one year term and can only be renewed if both sides agree that the Arbitrator did a good job. Therefore, Arbitrators were under pressure form both sides to come up with decisions that would not alienate one side or the other that might jeopardizetheir position on the Board. Therefore, Arbitrators were very reluctant to either terminate or acquit educators but would hand down "awards" of fines and suspensions. The Arbitrators knew that if they did not terminate the teacher, the union was happy that the educator kept his or her job, while the DOE was happy that the Arbitrators found the educator guilty by handing out fines and suspensions. While this is not the same as the State 3020-a proceedings it should have resulted in relatively fair decisions. However, the New York City 3020-a arraignment is actually detrimental to the educator, when compared to the State 3020-a process since the DOE is more aggressive in going after Arbitrators and the hearings are held in their building. Let's look at the other changes the UFT and DOE have agreed on that hurt educator "due process" rights when compared to the State 3020-a process.
The Elimination Of The Three Arbitrator Panel For Incompetence Cases: The State 3020-a process requires a three Arbitrator panel to determine educator incompetence. However, the UFT and DOE agreed to eliminate the three Arbitrator panel and only one Arbitrator is assigned to each incompetence case. The elimination of the three-Arbitrator panel reduces educator "due process" by allowing one Arbitrator to make the decision that can affect the educator's future employment. As you have guessed there has been more charges of teacher incompetence since this change a decade ago.
Gone Is The Educator's Right To Select An Arbitrator From A List: The State 3020-a process allows the accused educator to select an Arbitrator from a list sent by the State. In the NYC 3020-a process, the Arbitrator is assigned to the educator and cannot be changed.
Familiarity By All Parties With Each Other: The NYC 3020-a process allows the Arbitrator to be paired up with the DOE and NYSUT lawyers. This grouping can stay together for up to four years and the only outsider is the accused educator. Therefore, the Arbitrator may be influenced by the lawyers that he or she has been with for years while the poor educator is just an outsider and a number. This is not good for the educator as his or her input may be somewhat discounted by the Arbitrator. This may be especially true when the educator takes a private lawyer who is not only a stranger to the Arbitrator but threatens the group relationship and can subconsciously affected the Arbitrator's decision.
The Probable Cause Provision: Only the NYC 3020-a process has the infamous "probable cause" provision that was just recently expanded by the UFT and DOE to include a felony assault allegation. This has resulted in many an educator taken off payroll for up to three months and without health benefits simply based upon hearsay.
Elimination Of The Right To Grieve A Letter To The File: The UFT also agreed to eliminate the teacher's right to grieve Letters-To-The-File (LIF) allowing Principals to pile up LIF against teachers for use in the 3020-a hearing.
In addition, the DOE is much more aggressive in removing Arbitrators who they believe are too educator friendly then the UFT. The result is that the remaining Arbitrators will make sure the "awards" are sufficiency harsh to pacify the DOE, least they be targeted for removal by the DOE.
Finally, the UFT has encouraged the teachers to take the voluntary PIP+ program that has a 90% failure rate and an almost 100% termination rate by the Arbitrators. who have uniformly agreed to allow the PIP+ educator to testify as an "expert witness".
The union may object to this post but the truth is the truth. Our union has weakened educator "due process" rights and have put any teacher that is targeted by an Administrator in danger of termination.
The self-proclaimed Emperor doesn't like the Civil Service System that was established in 1883 which was set up to eliminate favoritism, nepotism, and patronage when hiring, firing, and promoting government employees. The Mayor4Life selected a hand-picked group of friends and executives to revamp the Civil Service System to bring back the very abuses that was the reason for the Civil Service System in the first place. This elitist group was called the Workforce Reform Task Force and its mission was to reduce worker protections under the Civil Service system. Mayor Bloomberg did not see fit to include any union leaders in the group and made sure the unions were kept in the dark about the task force and did not know about the report until the New York Times brought attention to it. Predictably, the unions were very upset about not being involved in the process and have formed a united front to stop any of the Bloomberg proposals that require State approval to see the light of day.
One of the major reforms Mayor Bloomberg wants is to eliminate the "last in, first out" requirement for City teachers and changes to the Taylor Law making it easier for the City to use department seniority, rather than total seniority to determine layoffs. This would allow the City to eliminate whole departments rather than have bumping occur. Predictably the union leaders were very negative to the changes led by the Uniformed Firefighters Association President, Steve Cassidy who was disgusted with the secrecy of the task force and said had the union been included in the discussions, maybe common ground could have been found for the union to support some of the 23 recommendations. Instead the Mayor is trying to steamroll this past them and the unions will band together to fight any changes sent to Albany. Teacher union Pf resident Michael Mulgrew stated that "Emperor Mike wants complete control of everyone, in their jobs and their life. That's how I read the report".
As many of you have suspected and some of you know, I have been incarcerated by the Tweed Taliban, based upon false and frivolous charges for an astounding 1531 days and counting. Hear what I have to say on the South Bronx School internet radio broadcast on Tuesday at 9pm. Just call 1-917-932-8721. You will not be disappointed.
Finally, with the City cash starved, Mayor Bloomberg has started to acknowledge the wasteful and questionable spending by Tweed of high priced consultants by using a no-bid process and ordered the DOE to eliminate 4 million dollars worth of consultants to keep open firehouses the New York Daily News reported today. We, in the education community has complained for years how Tweed used this no-bid process to hire high priced consultants and programs with questionable educational value. Especially when it came to the classroom. It wasn't too long ago that some of Tweed's questionable spending habits surfaced in the media. We all remember this travesty, don't we?
Now that Joel Klein was pushed out and the unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black is really the Mayor's puppet, the Mayor is now taking a closer look at Tweed's spending and it is about time. With no Joel Klein to run interference to block the City from investigating the DOE's spending practices, it should be open season for the City to scrutinize how the nearly 500 million dollars are used by Tweed. The 4 million dollars is really just a tip of the iceberg. With the schools starving for funds to serve the City's children, it is unconscionable for Tweed to use precious funds for questionable and wasteful programs that have little to do with education and nothing to do with the classroom.
The reallocation of funds from Tweed to the schools are a priority when the City is threatening to layoff 6,400 teachers and countless other school personnel. Therefore, it is time that each and every program that Tweed wants to fund be sent to an educational screening committee to ensure there is educational value of the program. Finally, no more no-bid contracts that just result in overpaying for suspect programs with little, if any educational value.
It is time that Chancellor Cathie Black do some real housecleaning and get rid of those Tweed officials who were responsible for the wasting of hundreds of millions of dollars given to highly paid consultants'. It should be children first not "children last".
I hate to say I told you so but the unqualified Chancellor, Cathie Black has tipped her hand by stating that her top priority is the Bloomberg-imposed budget cuts and increasing already large class size to account for less teachers in the school system. She was very vague about how she was to handle budget cuts without hurting the schools but did say that increasing class size is not as important as keeping quality (cheap & inexperienced) teachers in the classroom. I wonder where she got that from? In other words eliminate "last in, first out" civil service requirements. Another reason she was vague was she really knows nothing about education or the New York City Public Schools. Remember, she went to private school and her children went to a boarding school with maybe 10-15 students per class.
Cathie Black started her school tour by going to a few carefully selected schools while staying clear of the struggling and failing schools, like Jamaica High School that would show her what the DOE has done to them by starving them or money and forcing them to take the students that were rejected from other schools. These are known as over the counter students. A more detailed history of what happened to Jamaica High School was written up by teacher Marc Epstein, Here. I see no real change in this school year with the unqualified Chancellor in charge as she is really a pre-kindergartner when it comes to her knowledge of the public schools. Therefore, look for the cuts to be controlled by Tweed and layoffs come from outside Tweed. That means the Regional Offices (CFN's) clerical positions, school aides, and support staff are in serious danger of losing their jobs. Do not look for significant cuts at Tweed or their pet programs that have proven to be just about worthless to student academic achievement. How does a bunch of British and Australian non-educators add to an American educational program? The millions spent on these worthless quality review and letter grade programs inspired by Tweed, should have resulted in the firing of these idiots who approved it. Instead they were promoted under Joel Klein.
I hold little hope for the New York City Public School students while the Bloomberg puppet, Cathie Black, is told by the Mayor what to cut and leave Tweed alone. Haven't they have done a good job destroying the New York City Public School in their ever continuing "children last" program?
We are now starting the 2011 year and it will certainly be a trying year for our union as we now have a new Governor who will be demanding education cuts, a Mayor who refuses to negotiate a contract and is threatening to layoff 6,400 teachers, and a clueless Chancellor who will blindly follow the Mayor's orders, no matter how destructive it will be to the children. This is the time that our union must show they are strong and willing to go to the limit to protect their members. Something the union has failed to do in the last few years. For example, my last year's wishes failed to materialize as we saw the union frequently outmaneuvered by the Bloomberg/Klein Administration and their media outlets. This is the second consecutive year that the union has utterly failed to protect their members against the Bloomberg/Klein onslaught and to improve the teaching profession.
Michael (don't call me Mike) Mulgrew has stated that he is no Randi Weingarten. However, he has kept the same old failed leadership that was around when she was union President and who were responsible for the infamous 2005 contract. Furthermore, the union continues to secretly negotiate with the DOE without asking their members who are affected by the negotiations and in many cases are blindsided when the DOE, time and again reneges or ignores the agreement.
What do I expect the union to do this year? Glad you asked. Here is my New Year's list:
A contract that includes the "City pattern" with no givebacks!.
No ATR time limit, ever!
No changing the "last in, first out" layoff list.
No weakening of our "due process" rights.
The right to a fair and independent investigation for alleged misconduct.
Elimination of the PIP+ termination program.
Teacher input into the teacher evaluation program.
Finally, it is time for our union to be proactive and stop being reactive when it comes to its member concerns.