It is very obvious that Mayor Bloomberg hates the UFT and time and again goes out of his way to slam the union and the protections of tenure and "due process" that the teachers enjoy. His hatred of the union has manifested in his many actions against the teacher union. First, it was the failure to give the teachers union the same "City pattern" he gave all the other unions. Second, it was the his attack on seniority-based job protections known as "last in, first out" or LIFO which ended in his bill to end LIFO for NYC teachers only. Third, it was the massive teacher layoffs he proposed with teachers making up an incredible 80% of the total City layoffs. Finally, his attack on teacher tenure has resulted in an astonishing 42% not receiving tenure this school year and the Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, has stated that it will be even higher next year. How would he know this unless Tweed has already decided on a quota system for tenure.
Negotiating with the anti-teacher union Mayor is only a lose-lose proposition. There is no doubt that the Mayor will ask for massive givebacks from the teachers union, similar to to infamous 2005 giveback laden contract that has resulted in the ATR crises and teachers suspended for three months based upon a mere accusation of sexual misconduct. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the union can achieve the previous two year "City pattern" without a more comprehensive multi-year contract that will include miniscule or no raises and massive "givebacks". With that in mind, it is in the union's advantage to wait out the Mayor.
Remember, without the union's willingness to work out a teacher evaluation system with the City, there is no teacher evaluation system this year. The union would be nuts to negotiate a teacher evaluation system with the City based upon the DOE rubric that in a pilot program showed 18% of the teachers were rated "ineffective". This would eventually allow the DOE to replace all the teachers in the system in a seven year period allowing the City to meet its objectives to have a cheap and replaceable teaching staff. No pension, no retiree health benefits, no nothing.
Negotiating with this Mayor would be a serious mistake that will hurt the teaching profession for many years to come. It is best to simply wait the Mayor out and negotiate with the next Mayor.
Here we go again, the DOE came out with a rubric to determine teacher effectiveness that resulted in 42% of the teachers were denied tenure, up from 11% the year before. Under the rubric, the untenured teachers needed to be rated either "effective" or "highly effective" to receive tenure. This appears to be the same rubric that in a pilot program, resulted in 18% of tenured teachers being rated as "ineffective". Even the Mayor's mouthpiece and fifth columnists in Educators 4 Excellence quested the 42% refusal rate for tenure and accused the DOE that the teacher evaluation process lacked transparency in determining the tenure refusal. Of course they still support the Mayor and Chancellor's actions in changing the tenure system. How naive of them to think they would be exempt from Tweed's fuzzy math and lack of transparency, the hallmark of the DOE under Bloomberg.
While i agree that the DOE's refusal to grant tenure to almost half of the untenured teachers is terrible and wrong, the greater concern is the use of the DOE rubric on all teachers that has resulted in an unbelievable 18% failure rate! Already those unlucky teachers who will be working in the 33 schools will be subject to it or a close similarity. and I cringe at the results, especially for the senior teachers in those schools. Michael Mulgrew needs to first see how it works in the 33 schools in the next two years before any variation of the DOE rubric is used for the rest of the school system. Rushing into this teacher evaluation system without some real and piratical results to ensure there are no discriminatory issues that can affect the evaluation of teachers without real data is like being shot out of a cannon without a safety net.
Without real protections and objective criteria, the DOE rubric, as presently constructed, is a teacher termination program plain and simple. Let's not rush into any of these programs without the actual data to back them up. Remember, we are without a contract and do we really want to negotiate with the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration? The answer is a loud Nooooooooo!
P.S. Here is a youtube video of Joel Klein talking to Joel klein about conflict of interest. Or was it just coincidence?Thanks to my commenter for the link.
The DOE sent all principals a webcast to explain how the new ATR agreement will work for the New York City Schools. While the webcast was very informative, there was some disturbing statements that the union must look into and clarify. According to the webcast (but not in the union announced ATR agreement). Principals can still hire outside substitutes if the Principal decides that none of the ATRs are a good fit with the school. If the DOE interpretation is true, this makes the new ATR agreement "crap". If the DOE interpretation is true, what stops a Principal to claim none of the ATRs are a good fit? Furthermore, how is the union going to enforce itif principals violate the ATR agreement?
The real question is how many ATRs will a Principal need to interview or try out before he or she can hire an outside substitute? One, three, ten in the subject area? Do they really need to interview any ATR for the position at all? Like all of the DOE/UFT agreements, there appears to be a lack of enforceability if principals violate the ATR agreement. Just like the last two ATR agreements, no Principal has ever been brought up on charges for violating the previous two agreements. I do not expect that Tweed will discipline principals who violate this ATR agreement as well. An example would be the "Dare to be remarkable" school with the "C" rated Principal who has already told an outside "newbie teacher" that she will be a long-term substitute for a Math vacancy in her school during the 2011-12 school year. If the "C" rated Principals follows through with the hiring, what will the UFT and DOE do? Past history say that the "C" rated Principal will get her way and not be disciplined and that will tell us all about how well the new ATR agreement will work. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.
Yes, there is a new Chancellor at the top but at Tweed it is simply business as usual when it comes to following the ATR agreements negotiated with the union.
The apparent increase in the New York City graduation rate is due to the explosion of the "credit recovery program" which replaces "seat time" for students. Included in the elimination of "the seat time requirements are all the new online learning programs that the DOE has approved and now operating. Tweed has said time and again that technology is the key to success. However, the DOE is strangely quiet on the consequences of having technology replace "student seat time" in graduating students for the working world. Of course, Tweed doesn't care about that, just get the student to graduate out of the public school system, not what happens to them after. Unfortunately, I saw a first-hand situation of such a consequence.
Most every morning I would stop at a coffee shop for my cup of java. Usually the person who served me was named Pedro. He was 20 and had just graduated in January, thanks to "credit recovery" and online courses he was allowed to take at home. Pedro was a good worker, when he showed up, and the owner was reluctant to fire him since Pedro was supporting a year old child. However, the owner was at the end of his rope with Pedro about his many absences. The owner asked me to talk to Pedro since I was a regular and a teacher. I spoke to Pedro and told him that the working world is different from school. There are no "credit recovery programs" in the real world and taking off time is frowned on by employers. Pedro responded by saying the following "I know that I should be more responsible but I can't help it since I learned that in school if you don't show up good things happen anyway". Exasperated with that response, I tried to explain to Pedro that this does not work in the real world that as a teacher, I make sure I am there every day. He thanked me for talking to him and he will try better.
Today, I came in for my cup of Java and there was no Pedro, the manager told me that Pedro did not come in Monday and Tuesday, (he went to the beach) and told the manager on Wednesday that he needed the days off to relax. Of course he never called the manager to tell him about being absent. The manager had no choice but to fire Pedro and decided to hire an older person who takes his responsibility more seriously. I hope this person did not graduate High School due to "credit recovery" otherwise, the manager may face the same problem.
Finally, I find evidence that younger principals are more likely to dismiss older teachers than they are to dismiss younger teachers. There are no obvious explanations for this pattern, although one might speculate that younger principals may value different characteristics in a teacher than older principals. Regardless, this pattern does seem to warrant further exploration.
While I am sure both the union and the DOE have statistics that can support my claim, I don't expect them to publish them as not to embarrass each other. The DOE for allowing principals to practice age discrimination and the union for turning a blind eye to the practice. However, there is anecdotal evidence to support my claim. I have spoken to many ATRs and a few Chapter Leaders who have told me that the principals were looking for younger and cheaper teachers to fill their vacancies. Part of the reason is their tight budgets but it is increasingly obvious to even the casual observer that the more senior ATRs are not even given interviews. Other principals are hiding their vacancies in the vain hope that the hiring freeze is rescinded at the end of August or that they can gain an exception as some principals were able to do in the last two years when Joel Klein was the Chancellor. Of course, many principals will simply let the "Children First Network" assign an ATR to them and let them fill the vacancy without taking on their salaries. Whatever the reason, the senior ATRs are not being selected to interview for the fewvacancies listed.
The only way that the DOE can save the $43 million dollars that they promised Bloomberg is to make sure every vacancy is listed and that the ATRs fill them. I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon.
Over the last three years the New York City Public School System has shed 8,000 teachers through attrition. Even with a rise of class sizes, many of the vacancies have gone unfilled and given either to a long-term substitute from outside the system, "F" status ex-employees, or ATRs. For many principals it was more of an advantage for their dwindling school budget to not fill the vacancies with high-salaried excessed experienced teachers. Instead. they would look to the above-mentioned three groups to fill the vacancies as cheaply as possible, paying them a substitutes salary.
I have spoken to numerous ATRs and not only have they not found positions but almost all of them have not even obtained an interview! The news media vilifies the ATRs as lazy, unmotivated, and "bad teachers" aided and abetted by the Bloomberg/Klein Administration. However, this is far from the truth. Take me for an example. I have applied to eight vacancies in my subject area, which is a near-shortage area. Yet, despite my resume showing all the advantages the school gets by hiring me, especially my passing percentage in the Regents, I received only one mass interview. Furthermore, the job fair I attended were dominated by Bronx and transfer schools and few Queens schools were there. Even the ones that had vacancies in my subject area!
The question is why don't I get interviews? How about age and salary? When you a highly-paid senior teacher and schools are under budget pressure, why hire that teacher when the school can get an ATR to fill the position for a third of the salary, with Tweed picking up the rest? Until Tweed removes the unfair "fair student funding formula" that is a disincentive for principals to hire ATRs and requires the school to pick up the full salary of any ATR that is placed in his or her subject area position, nothing will change. If Tweed is really serious in saving money, the DOE must make sure that all vacancies are posted and qualified ATRs are given the chance to fill the position as an appointed teacher.
Let's see what happens as the new school year approaches if the schools are really serious about putting children first and reduce class sizes by hiring ATRs for their hidden vacancies.
Well, the DOE has seemingly shot themselves in the foot yet again as they refuse to fund a student literacy program that apparently works while adding more layers of bureaucracy to the already bloated Administration. In the New York Daily News Opinion page, the very respected Sol Stern wrote an article on how the DOE has decided not to continue to fund a pilot program that seemed to work for the neediest students starting in Kindergarten and went to second grade. This program is called the"Core Knowledge Language Arts Program" . While I don't always agree with Sol Stern or believe in some of his education ideas, this program seems to have vastly improved the students knowledge relative to the control group for the selected Bronx and Queens schools that implemented it. It would appear worthwhile to continue this modestly priced program and see how the students do in the years ahead, at least to their middle school years.
However, the DOE has not allocated funding for the "Core Knowledge Language Arts Program" for the 2011-12 school year. The total annual funding for the program is estimated to be $300,000. Instead the DOE has quietly decided to spend a couple of million dollars on more administrators. The New York City Parents blog reports that Tweed has quietly authorized the hiring of more bureaucrats and knowing how the DOE massages the data, these positions will be assigned to the school budgets and not Tweed's, despite the schools never requesting these unnecessary bureaucratic positions or using their dwindling funds to pay for them.
Here is just another case how the DOE refuses to fund a program that apparently improves a student's literacy knowledge while wasting money on more layers of unwanted bureaucracy and in a typical Trojan Horse move, charge the schools for these positions rather than the Central Bureaucracy who proposed it. Just another way that Tweed screws the schools and the children in them. Children last. Always!
We all know that the Blommerg/Klein claims of narrowing the racial/income academic achievement gap was an illusion. However, what we didn't know was how poorly New York City fared when compared to the other big cities in New York State when it came to the racial achievement gap.
According to Maisie McAdoo of the UFT the 2010 racial academic achievement gap was 21.6% between Hispanics and Whites and 19.6% between Blacks and Whites. By contrast the four largest cities in New York State (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers) had a composite racial achievement gap of only 9% for Hispanics and 11.5% for Blacks, or half the achievement gap as New York City minorities. In other words all the phony reforms that the Bloomberg/Klein Administration implemented did not achieve the results they claimed. The fact that the racial academic achievement gap is twice as wide in New York City then in the other big cities in New York State shows that the Bloomberg/Klein reforms have miserably failed.
Another interesting fact from the New York State numbers was how poorly the Charter Schools prepared students for life after high school. Only 9.5% of Charter School graduates were considered "college and career ready", compared to the New York City public school graduates of 21.4% and New York state's 36.7%. I guess this puts the rest what kind of education you really get in these Charter Schools.
I have written about the phony claims on the Bloomberg/Klein propaganda on narrowing the income/racial achievement gap. Here, Here, and Here. Now it seems the 2010 New York State data puts to rest their bogus their claims of narrowing the academic achievement gap between minorities and Whites. The Bloomberg/Klein claims are simply "smoke and mirrors".
New York Post columnist, Michael Goodwin has seen first-hand how the bizarro world of the DOE works when investigating wrongdoings by administrators. In today's column Michael Goodwin wrote about his frustration when he tried to follow up on allegations of cheating by school administrators with the Special Commissioner of Investigations head Richard Condon. To his shock and surprise, SCI refused to take any, not one, of the 25 accusations of cheating at the schools. I could have told him that under Richard Condon, SCI only looks at sexual (no matter how trivial or phony the accusation is) or criminal matters and dumps the rest to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) which is subordinate to Tweed. Guess where these allegations of cheating went to? You guessed it, OSI! No credit recovery needed for you. This is the same inept OSI that has an ongoing two-year investigation of the Principal at Lehman High School for cheating (changing grades) and she is still there as Principal!
Maybe now that Chancellor Dennis Walcott is sufficiently embarrassed by DOE's failure to take prompt and real action against cheating administrators things will change. Yeah right, and if you believe that it will, I have a bridge to sell you. I hate to say this but I told you so. In my opinion nothing will change when it comes to investigating school administrators.
By falsely promoting students, these educators truly are hurting the students since they will not receive much-needed resources that would help them in the long-term if they were retained. Instead, they are advanced into a more academically demanding environment that is beyond their coping skills. The result would be a greater dropout rate in high school and less of a chance to be a work-ready adult.
While the cheating scandal at Atlanta is going to make it more difficult for principals to blatantly change answers to mandated State tests since it could potentially cost them their positions, the principals will use more sneaky and sinister ways to advance students who are undeserving of promotion. The question will be how will Dennis Walcott try to combat these principals when teachers expose their cheating practices? Will he establish an independent task force, answerable only to the Chancellor, like the NYPD's "internal affairs unit" or rely on the existing investigative agencies like OSI who is subject to Tweed's direction and practices a double standard between administrators and teachers in their investigative process? Such questions need to be answered. It is one thing to "talk the talk", it is another thing entirely to actually "walk the walk" and take real action against school cheating.
Will Dennis Walcott do what was done in Baltimore, or do what they did in Atlanta and Washington D.C.? Only time will tell. I, for one is not optimistic, unless the Mayor tells the Chancellor that is what he wants done. If you have a story about cheating in your school e-mail it to the Chancellor at DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov.
In the last few hours some Special Education teachers have informed me that they received new students for the summer school program and found that the latest iteration of the $79 million dollar boondoggle called SESIShas failed to include the student button that gains the teacher access to their student's IEP. According to these teachers who called the problem in, the SESIS help line response was that "we know of the problem and we are working on it". I guess the amount of calls became so bad during the day that the schools were later informed to please stop calling the SESIS help line and talk to the IEP contact in the school for obtaining student IEP's.
To me it is unbelievable that the computer consultant forgot to put a student button that denies the teacher access to his or her new student's IEP. However, this is just another example of the DOE approving a program that has more bugs in it then one can count and is almost universally despised by all unfortunate enough to use it. The waste of money on programs that are complicated, error-prone, and downright expensive is the hallmark of Tweed and only benefits the computer consultants who laugh their way to the bank.
I occasionally browse through the "Unity" blog called Edwize and read all about some "newbie teacher" who describes his or her trials and tribulations when dealing with administrators, parents, and students. Of course there are the regulars who worry about Puerto Rico, Darfur, and Mexico rather than local issues. However, once in a while one of these Edwize contributors will write an article that has real significance to the readers. One such occurrence has happened in Leo Casey's very good rebuttal to the Joel Klein propaganda piece in the Atlantic Magazine.
Leo Casey wrote a very good, if late, rebuttal to Joel Klein's faulty analysis of his warped tenure as Chancellor of the New York City schools. Of course, I did such a rebuttal almost two months earlier and can be found here. However, it still does not take away from Leo Casey's excellent rebuttal article and is a must read here. Buried in Leo Casey's brilliant analysis was a statistic that was downright mind-blowing. Leo Casey said the following about the DOE's "U" rating appeals process.
"The result is a ‘rubber stamp’ of whatever the principal wants: in the over 1300 ‘U’ rating appeals that have been heard by the Department of Education over the last two school years, exactly 3 cases have had that rating overturned".
I knew that a successful "U" rating appeal had real bad odds but not this bad! 3 out of over 1300? That is a 0.2% chance to win. You are better off trying to win acquittal in your 3020-a hearing (4%) than having the "U" rating changed. Over the years more and more teachers are getting "U" ratings (from 0.9% in 2005 to 2.40% in 2010) and the figure is probably even higher for the 2010-11 school year.
My advise for all of you who receive a "U" rating? Don't waste your time and effort for a 0.2% chance of having it reversed. Even the union knows this is true.
On June 27th, I wrote an article that many of the teachers, including me, who had finished their 3020-a cases and were sent back to schools, were given an "N" rating in violation of the contract. Complaints to the union has been met with varying incorrect responses by the union representatives and no action by the union leadership. Betsy Combier, in her "Rubber Room Reporter" blog also has written about the lack of union action on this issue and can be read Here. It appears that those incompetents at DOE's Human Resources automatically generated an annual report (CAR) for teachers coming out of reassignment as far back as November with a pre-printed grading of "N" (not rated). Principals were confused but complied with the DOE's"N" rating not realizing that they could give their own rating for the time the ATRs were in the schools. Some Principals have tried to contact Human Resources on this issue but have been unable to reach anybody with the knowledge of the problem. "Did they all just disappear"?
Union responses to this violation of the contract has been tepid and confusing, ranging from filing a grievance within ten days, write a rating appeal in September, talk to the Principal over the summer, or the "N" rating issue will be taken up in the Fall. However, all these responses by the union are wrong and absolve them of responsibility in this apparent PERB violation by the DOE. I myself tried to contact the union leadership at 52 Broadway on this issue but suffered the same fate as the Principals have with DOE's Human Resources. No phone calls are returned.
Maybe the union should be filing a PERB complaint as the contract has been violated and not corrected by the DOE. What does the contract say about who gets an "N" rating? It states the following: A rating of “Not Applicable (NA)” is to be used only in situations where a pedagogical employee is reassigned out of his/her regular assignment for disciplinary reasons. The “NA” rating will apply only for the period of reassignment, cannot be used in any proceeding as evidence of wrongdoing and will not otherwise affect any other rights afforded in the Agreement where ratings are an issue."
This statement is in the October 2007 contract and can be found in Article 21F on page 115 if you want to read it for yourself.
My question is why is the union not enforcing the contract? Furthermore, why are different union Representatives giving various answers to the "N" rating fiasco? I would like the Union leadership to address this manner as quickly as possible since the "N" rating is a "Scarlet Letter" for ATRs who are trying to fill vacancies.
The Education Reformers have many leaders. However, there are no more important people in education reform then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ex NYC Chancellor Joel Klein. According to the Education Reformers these two individuals have changed NYC Public Schools for the better by improving graduation rates, reducing the racial/income achievement gap, rising test scores, and most of all giving parents a real choice by adding charter schools and small themed schools to the mix of public schools. The mass media have trumpeted their achievements without really looking into the numbers. It is only lately, that both have been gently criticized as Mayor Bloomberg's popularity has been dropping like a rock for his attack on teachers by falsely claiming 4,100 teacher layoffs. Let's look at how fraudulent their claims of improved graduation rates and student academic achievement are.
Yes, the graduation rates have risen significantly during their tenure, from 47% to 61%. However, there has been manipulation of these graduation rates.
First, the dropout rates were massaged by the DOE so that many students who dropped out of high schools were listed as leaving the school system and this incorrectly improved the percentage of those graduating.
Second, Principals were under increasing pressure to graduate students since it reflected on the school's overall grade and their bonus. In one outrageous case that blogger "Pissed Off" wrote about, a Principal took it on himself to change the grade of hundreds of students, without the required teacher approvals to improve his graduation rate and receive a $25,000 bonus. In another, the Principal of Lehman High School was accused of grade-changing to improve the school's graduation rate. Moreover, the bone-headed Principal of Jamaica High School tried this action to increase his school's graduation rate.
The real question is what have these graduating high school students really achieved during the Bloomberg/Klein Administration? According to the latest New York State Report, not much. Here are some very disturbing statistics.
Only 12% of Black & Hispanic graduates are college or career ready.
78% of high school graduates need remedial courses in college.
The racial/income academic achievement gap has not significantly changed.
The rising graduation rate is suspect when you account for dropouts and credit recovery programs.
Racial/Income Academic Achievement Gap:
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein kept claiming their education reforms were closing the academic achievement gap between the races and income levels. However, the truth was different, much different. In 2010 New York State published their revised test scores and NYC was shown to have regressed back to the levels in 2002, when the terrible twosome took over the NYC Schools. Worse, was the racial/income academic achievement gap statistics showed that the City failed to close the gap and in some cases it actually widened!
Charter & Small Schools:
The Bloomberg/Klein Administration allowed them to be more selective than the public schools in selecting their students. Many of these schools had little or no ELL or Special Education students or pleaded lack of resources when parents wanted their special-needs child into the school. Furthermore, these schools encouraged many problem students out of the school and dumped them into the neighborhood schools. Finally. the charter schools were not subject to the "fair student funding formula"that the Public Schools were. This increased the money they get from Tweed by 20% when compared to the Public Schools. Yet after all these advantages, the charter schools fared no better than the public schools.
How do I sum up Mayor Michael Bloomberg's and ex-Chancellor Joel Klein's education legacy? A failed education reform using fraudulent assumptions and fuzzy Math to come up with statistics that have proven to be wrong.