Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why Didn't The DOE Remove The Principal For Covering Up The Beating Of A Student By The Dean?

The New York Daily News was given a video of a 300 pound dean bashing a 125 pound teenager into a table and based upon the video footage the Dean initiated the physical contact.  Watching the video it is very obvious that the Dean violated Chancellor's Regulation A-420  (Corporal Punishment) and the Principal should have immediately contacted the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).  Instead the Principal chose to ignore regulations and after watching the video, only gave a letter-to-the-file to the Dean.  What was worse is that the school told the parent of the battered boy that her child had started the physical altercation.

The mother contacted the school when her son told her that the Dean started the physical altercation and that his back was hurting., When the mother called the Principal, Janiine Kieran, the mother was told that she would look into it and call her back.  The Principal never did.

The question is why didn't the Principal follow the rules?  Is she incompetent or did she deliberately try to cover up the attack by her Dean?  Now the DOE claims they will investigate the Principal's action.  In the meantime the Principal stays in the school when she is either incompetent or covered up a beating by her Dean.  Where is Walcott's zero tolerance when it comes to this Principal?

For a complete look at the Daiky News article and video you can read and see it here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Good Parenting Skills Are The Prime Factor In Student Academic Success.

Over the last few years I have written about why parents are the primary factor in student learning.  Even the Emperor, Michael Bloomberg has  lately realized how important parents are in their children's academic success and ripped them for not helping their children to achieve academic competence.  Of course this is very different than the education reformers wanted to hear.  These reformers, otherwise known as deformers, claim that a child's academic success depends on their teacher and not their upbringing.  This very flawed vision is known as "no excuses" and deformers like ex-Chancellor Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee were strident supporters of this approach. Just read what these middle school students, who likely come from poverty and single parent households in East New York, acted at the World Trade Center Memorial.  Is that the school's fault or do we place the blame squarely on the primary cause of their misbehavior, the lack of discipline in the family.

Study after study has shown that the social-economic influences in a child's family and community are approximately 80% of a student's academic success.  How is a child going to learn when there are no books in a house, a parent to help with homework, and worse, allowing the child to roam the streets at all hours of the night!  No wonder they are always sleeping in class. Where is the parent's responsibility to make sure that the child actually arrives at school  on time , if at all?   Are they fed properly? Why fault the school when the parents are the cause of truant and hungry students?  That brings me to Michael Goodwin's article that identifies the root cause of poor student academic performance and that is the parents.  While I do not agree with some of his conclusions such as Catholic Schools are better, I do agree with him that parents are the primarily cause of student success academically.

While a "quality teacher" small class sizes, and adequate school resources are all important factors in a student's academic success, the most important factor is the student's family and even the Emperor has reluctantly realized it.  Instead of wasting money and resources on failed options like
Turnaround schools" the Mayor should spend the money on wraparound services that help support the family structure and their involvement in the schools.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tears And Anger In The Turnaround Schools As Staff Have Been Told That The New Schools Do Not Want Them.

Staff "pink slips"  have been issued in some of the schools that will replace the closing schools in the "turnaround" process and the already terrible morale at these schools have just sunk to a new level.

Staff are being informed by e-mails that they were not selected for a position at the new schools and that they should look on the open market system to find a position.  In my school at least 50% of the teachers have been e-mailed the bad news and there is plenty of crying and anger about what has happened.  Worse, is that many of the teachers who are excellent teachers and even the "teacher of the year", as selected by the students, were told that they do not fit into the vision of the new school Administration.  I guess it really is not about the students after all.

My school feels like a morgue with staff looking like the "walking dead" (zombies) and I am sure so do the other "turnaround schools" as the survivors of the culling comfort their soon departed colleagues who still must complete marking the Regents and giving back equipment and keys before leaving the school for good on their journey into the excess pool of "job fairs" ,  interviews, and possibly ending up as an ATR for the next school year.

Why couldn't this awful and unnecessary process wait for the Arbitrator decision?  What if the Arbitrator decides for the UFT?  How does one feel about returning to a school where the new Administration does not want them?  What kind of school climate is there with such staff and Administration distrust?  Moreover, how does this climate of distrust and suspicion help the students?  Finally, what was the DOE thinking in pushing for a solution that is worse than the problem?

The Mayor has a temper tantrum and because he must have his way, 24 schools are in chaos and half the staff who have worked well with their unique student population are gone.  Tell me how this is good for the students?  "Children first"?  Yeah right and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Summer Plans - Relax And Enjoy Myself.

I will be leaving my chaotic high school which will have the same students with the same academic and discipline problems, regardless if the school becomes a "Turnaround school" or not.  In fact the school is expecting a greater influx of ELL and special education students which means more CTT classes and more academic and behavioral issues for the school.  However, that is now behind me, I will be looking forward to my summer with a sense of calm and relaxation knowing I will not be part of this disaster in the making in my old school.

I do not expect any job offers this summer, despite the shortage in my subject area because of my salary, age, and the DOE discipline flag in my file, Remember, the DOE is encouraging the schools to hire the cheap, untenured, and young teachers since, for the principals it is not about what is best for their students but what is best for their budget. Yes, I will go to the customary job fair where I will have a reunion of the over 50 set and listen as we tell each other stories of our frustration in landing a position.  I have already applied for twelve open positions and received no responses and I don't expect to receive an interview.  I will not work summer school since I consider it "blood money", with no breaks from 8am to 1pm and Therefore, here is what I plan for my summer vacation.

  • Relax, and enjoy the summer in my backyard hammock.
  • Work on my garden and take bicycle rides in my neighborhood.
  • Visit friends and go with my daughter to look at wedding gowns
  • Go to the beach and swim in the water.
  • Take a cruise to Bermuda with my wife.
While many of my colleagues are worried about  their school positions, I intend to relax and  enjoy myself as I bide my time for the right position to appear that is a "good fit" for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Racial/Income Student Academnic Achievement Gap Is Still Wide And The Numbers Are Very Disturbing Despite What The Mayor & Chancellor Claim.

Despite all the claims of the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administrations that they are closing the racial/income student academic achievement gap the actual "college and career readiness"numbers for 2011 show a very different conclusion.  For example in Queens the 2011 numbers showed that blacks have a college readiness rate of 10.5% and if you look at the black male population it falls below 10%! Gender wise females had better college readiness scores than males by 5%.  Listed below is the various "college and career readiness rates" While I only used Queens High School data, the numbers and ratios are very similar for the other four boroughs. for all the Queens High Schools. All the data for NYC can be found on pg 126 of the NYS report here.

"College And Career Readiness Rates"
  • Blacks.........10.5%
  • Hispanics....14.9%
  • Whites........32.5%
  • Asians........38.5%
The numbers showed that for every black that is "college and career ready", there are three white and over four Asian students that are academically successful.

In addition,  the New York State student progress report also showed that the Bloomberg small schools are a failure academically with an academically terrible 11% "college and career readiness score" compared to a dismal citywide 20.7% rate.  That means that only a little over one out of every ten sstudents who graduate from the Bloomberg small schools are ready academically.  This is success?  I don't thing so.  Furthermore, according to an unscientific survey by Ed the Apple, between 25-33% of all NYC high school students graduate with "credit recovery" credits and between 5-10% with multiple "credit recovery" credits. 

Finally, The latest poll shows that Chancellor Dennis Walcott has seen a significant drop in his already poor approval ratings to a disappointing 37% from a high of 43% in March.  I am shocked it is still as high as it is but like the saying goes "you can fool so of the people all of the time" and there are 37% who appears to have been fooled by the Bloomberg/Walcott rhetoric of advances in education progress when the evidence shows otherwise.

Maybe the news media should be writing articles how the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration should be held "accountable" for the dismal student academic results but then again the news rags rather scapegoat the teachers instead.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Chancellor Walcott's Op-Ed Piece Is A Bunch Of Trash As He Pleads For The Power To Fire Teachers Accused Of Sexual Misconduct But Found Innocent By An Independent Arbitrator.

I read with some amusement the Op-Ed piece by the Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott in the New York Tmes and couldn't believe the spin he put into the article as he pleaded for the power to arbitrarily fire teachers accused of sexual misconduct but were found innocent by Arbitrators.  In his piece he wrote many things that were either misleading or untrue.

First, He claims that substantiated investigations are proof enough that he would terminate teachers, regardless what the actual evidence is.  People familiar with my story and my blog know that these investigations from OSI and SCI are not independent but are biased and unfair against an accused teacher.  In fact, the Principal has a great deal of influence on how the investigation goes.  If the Principal does not like the teacher, you can guess the investigators will substantiate bogus, false, and frivolous actions, and even hearsay statements as proof of sexual misconduct.  I guess the Chancellor does not want the inconvenient truth that evidence should be used as the basis for determining if teacher sexual misconduct actually happened.

Second, he knows full well that when it comes to sexual misconduct, the Arbitrator does not "split the baby" as he claims.  An Arbitrator who finds even minor sexual misconduct is required to terminate the teacher.  In fact here is what it states:

  In 3020-a proceedings, a mandatory  penalty of discharge shall apply to any tenured pedagogue a) found by a hearing officer to have engaged in sexual misconduct or b) who have pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of criminal charges for such conduct.

The Chancellor knows very well what the rules state.  What he ignores is that if these Arbitrators were not following the rules then why does the DOE keep them on the panel year after year?

Third, the Arbitrators rule on the preponderance of relevant evidence not unfounded hearsay, rumors, and gossip or worse, unsupported accusations aided and abetted by unscrupulous Administrators.  Of course, in Chancellor Walcott's  piece he assumes all substantiated investigations and accusations are true, except when it is about his principals, that the Arbitrator's decision can be overturned by him.

Finally, the Chancellor claims that he should have the authority to make the final decision.  However, based on my and other cases he apparently does not have the necessary knowledge or patience to read the transcripts of the 3020-a hearings but takes the lazy way out by reading the so-called substantiated investigative  conclusions as his basis for making his decision to terminate teachers.  Consequently, I must question his judgement to fairly evaluate the evidence since he ignores the Arbitrator's reasoned decision and will base his decision on the politics and not the evidence.

Please read Accountable Talk's post for another response to the Chancellor's op-ed piece.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The New York Post Publishes DOE Generated Suspect Data And Claims That The City Did Better Then They Really Did. The Real Numbers Are Very Different.

I was shocked to see that the New York Post incorrectly published the student graduation rate and got it all wrong.  While all other media outlets claimed that the City students scores were either the same or lower for 2011, the New York Post praised the Mayor's education policy by publishing misleading data generated by the DOE and which were not accepted by any reasonable educator;  I guess this is just another case of the New York Post who will invent or use numbers inappropriately to prove their point even when they are wrong.  The paper delivered to my school said the following.


In the article they incorrectly used the wrong data to prove their case that the Bloomberg Administration's education policy was working.  To prove their point here is what they used as data.

  • Graduation rates -  DOE  data NYC 65.5%, State data 60,9%.
  • College readiness - DOE data NYC 24.7%  State data 20,7%
  • Minority Changes - State data shows a drop in the graduation rate for blacks, while the other groups (Asians, Hispanics, and Whites) showed slight gains.
 The data can be found in the NYS student progress report found here. Or in my previous post.

Once again, the DOE publishes suspect data that makes it seem that the failed education policy of the Bloomberg Administration is working when the actual statistics from, the State shows a very different conclusion of  failure to close the academic achievement gap, a reduction in graduation and college readiness rates and a drop in black graduation rates.

Monday, June 11, 2012

More Proof That The Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration's Education Policies Have Failed The Students.

New York State released last year's graduation statistics and it was not good news for the Bloomberg Administration as the bogus four year graduation rate actually dropped, despite the continued use of phony "credit recovery programs".  The actual graduation rate slipped a tenth of a point to 60.9% in 2012 from 2010.  By contrast the other major urban areas in New York State saw a 6% increase for 2011!  What is worse for the Bloomberg Administration is that the more accurate "career and college readiness rate" actually went down significantly, from a terrible 21.4% level in 2010 to an even more terrible 20.7% score for 2011. Worse yet there was a lower black graduation rate which dropped two tenths of a point to 60.4% while all other groups saw slight rises in their graduation rate this year. So much for narrowing the student academic achievement gap.

The 2011 numbers include the last group of seniors who can graduate with a local diploma which means that the four year graduation rate is expected to go down by 10% or more for this year's high school graduates.who must pass the Regents.  Moreover, with New York City also making "credit recovery programs" much more rigorous and limit the amount of courses allowed, that should allow an even further drop of the four year graduation rate for next year (2013) to below the 50% threshold.  Just in time as the Bloomberg Administration leaves office with a deteriorating school system and lower student academic achievement.

The DOE attempted to spin the disappointing data by claiming that more students achieved the more prestigious Regents diploma and that the newer schools had better graduation rates then the schools that they replaced. However, based upon the 2010 statistics the "college and career readiness scores" were lower than the large schools the are replacing.  The UFT's Jackie Bennett in her December 7th, 2011 article showed how poorly the new small schools (opened since 2003) prepared their students for college.  The analysis by Ms. Bennett was startling with all the small schools lagging behind the large school in their "college and career readiness scores".  Can you imagine if the small schools took their fair share of self contained special education and English Language Learners what their already low scores would be?

As for the better graduation rates at the small schools?  Of course it's better because of the massive amount of phony "credit recovery courses" that their students take and let's not forget these school's failure to take the most needy of students (self-contained special education and English Language Learners) and counsel behaviorally and/or academically challenged students out of their school by claiming a lack of resources for the student.

Overall the 2011 student data just shows that the flawed Bloomberg education policy is a failure.  Way to go Bloomie in your "children last" policy.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Proposed DOE Weakening Of The Student Discipline Policy Will Further Encourage The Lack Of Student Responsibility.

Chancellor Dennis Walcott has proposed a significant weakening of the student discipline policy, especially in the classroom.  For example students can no longer be suspended for cursing at a teacher, using their cell phones or ipods in the classroom, or defy a lawful command by the teacher.  Moreover, the student can no longer be removed from the classroom for excessive lateness or their failure to work in class.  These new rules are in draft form and can be found here. What is really amazing is that our next potential Mayor, Christine Quinn, otherwise known as Michael Bloomberg lite, wants to weaken it even more.  Just unbelievable.  Maybe these people should spend some time in the classroom before they develop these flawed education policy directives.

The new draft regulations recommend counseling for many student infractions and limits teacher authority to remove a student from the classroom. Weakening the student discipline code is short-sighted and harmful for the student in the long term.  What the weakening of the student discipline code will do is to further reduce student responsibility and make them ill-prepared for the adult world.  I have seen first hand what happens to a school when the Administration allows the students to run the school. 

Can you imagine a student who went through high school showing up late to class, always text messaging in the classroom, and frequently being unprepared to work (no notebook or pen) and the only thing that happened to him or her was to take an occasional  online "credit recovery" course that took less than a week to finish.  The result is that the students  receives an undeserved diploma. In my present school this happens far to many times and is a way to artificially raise the graduation rate.

Now this academically unprepared student tries to join the work force and since he or she is used to showing up late, having poor work habits, and disrespects authority guess what happens?  Right the now ex-student cannot hold a job because companies will not tolerate lateness, poor work, or lack of respect.
These ex-students move from short-term low paying job to the next and may never become a productive member of society and the reason is that the schools never held these students responsible for their poor academic work.  I actually saw this at my usual breakfast spot. 

Rather than weaken the student discipline code, we should strengthen it and hold students responsible if they are to become responsible and productive adults. Did the Chancellor ever hear of "tough love"?  Oops, there I go again using a bad word (love) I hope the Chancellor does not sic SCI on me.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Just Imagine If Mayor Michael Bloomberg Had The Same Power As Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker Had To Change Public Employee Rights.

I shudder to think if for some reason the Emperor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the authority to change public employee protections and rights as did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has?  Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin's public employee unions lost many rights none more important than the  "collective bargaining  rights" for unions.  Under Governor Walker's Administration  the following erosion of employee benefits and rights have occurred.

  • Loss of collective bargaining rights by unions except for salaries.
  • Union dues and membership are no longer mandatory.
  • Health benefit premiums have doubled.
  • Pension contributions have increased to over 7%.
  • Teachers are required to abide by new working conditions like a sixth classroom period instead of a preparation period for example.
  • Elimination or restricting teacher tenure and adding more time.
The question is what would the Emperor, Michael Bloomberg do if he obtained such powers?   This is easy to predict based upon his past actions.

  • Elimination of the Tribourough Amendment  that keeps an old contract in place.
  • End collective bargaining rights.
  • Replacing the defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan (401K).
  • No seniority rights  or step increases.
  • Raises based upon merit.
  • Drastically increasing health care premiums and co-payments to employees.
As for teachers, his favorite scapegoats.  Here is what one can expect.

  • Doubling of class sizes
  • A temporary and replaceable teaching force.
  • Terminate all ATRs and teachers who have discipline charges.
  • A sixth teaching period and more time in the classroom.
  • Eliminate the 7% fixed income fund in the TDA.
  • Eliminate teacher due process rights.
  • Unlimited Charter schools.
 It is a good thing we are not Wisconsin because if the Emperor, Mayor Bloomberg had his way, the experienced teacher who lasts long enough for a pension and retiree health benefits would be a  rare event indeed.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Consequences For Students Who Were Late For The Laboratory Practical - And The Blame Must Go To The School Administration. Especially The Principal,

We gave the Earth Science laboratory practical in the last week and many of the students missed it because they showed up late to class and were not let in.  The laboratory practical is an important part of the Earth Science Regents and averages 15% of the final Regents grade. These students were told days in advance that if they are not in the lab room within five minutes after the late bell sounds that they would be refused entry to take the lab practical.  Astonishingly,  many of my and other teachers' students failed to heed our warnings about getting there on time and were shocked when we couldn't let them in.  Now these students must hope that we volunteer a period of our time to allow them to do a "make up".  In our school there is no money for per session "make ups". Therefore, I will give up my lunch period to let students take the laboratory practical  and I can tell you very confidently that I will still have students show up too late to take it.  Why would these students not show up on time?  The blame lies with the school Administration. that ignores this behavior.

The fault lies  particularly with the Principal of the school.  Under his poor and leaderless Administration and inconsistent student discipline policy the many students who failed to show up on time can be attributed to his allowing students to enter the classroom anytime they want and teachers are lectured for locking their classroom doors or refusing tardy students entry to the classroom.  The Principal tells the teachers to enforce the rule of "no cell phones or ipods" in class but refuses to take action against the very same students who use both in the school hallways and stairwells.  Of course, teachers are ignored as the students realize that the school Administration does not have the back of the teachers.  Moreover, the Principal seems to protect the behaviorally challenged students who walk the halls consistently and disrupt the school environment.

The consequences of the inconsistent strident discipline policy  is the many students who failed to show up on time for the Earth Science laboratory practical and will probably fail the Regents.  Of course guess who will blamed?  You guessed it the teacher!

Friday, June 01, 2012

According To The Chancellor The Truth Is What He Claims It Is, Not What The Evidence Shows As He Fails To Understand What Sexual Misconduct Is.

Over the last few days young female teachers have been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with their male students.  Based upon the selected information presented so far it does certainly look like they committed sexual misconduct  Of course only time and evidence will tell if they really did. However, the Chancellor, when discussing alleged teacher sexual misconduct,  went further, and brought up the cases of the sixteen other teachers (all but one older and male) that he claimed had found to have committed sexual misconduct and should have been terminated.  According to the New York Daily News, he sent the UFT President Michael Mulgrew the following letter.

“From time to time . we hear reports of teachers who engage in inappropriate, and sometimes sexual, misconduct with students,” Walcott wrote in a letter to United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.   "Unfortunately under current law, when these reports are true, it is left to an arbitrator to decide on the punishment.”.

Notice how the Chancellor assumed that the charges against the sixteen teachers where found to be true?  While I cannot talk about the other cases, I will talk about my own on what is true and why the Chancellor is not capable of understanding the truth.

  • Truth, the most senior and respected Arbitrator on the panel threw out a phony letter to the file back in 2004 as "unfair and inaccurate". Yet the Chancellor did not bother to include it to the media. when he tried to vilify me.
  • Truth, A second Arbitrator found no "probable cause" that I committed sexual misconduct in 2008.Yet the DOE wasted over $500,000  in pursuing charges they knew were frivolous and also failed to include that information to the media..
  • Truth, the 3020-a Arbitrator found no "sexual misconduct" after weighing all the "preponderance of evidence" in 2011.
  • Truth, my Arbitrator told everybody that she was leaving the panel after my case.  Therefore, she did not need to "split the baby" as the Chancellor and Mayor falsely claim
  • Truth, the DOE failed to appeal when the Arbitrator's decision was rendered. If they were so sure that I committed sexual misconduct, why would you not appeal?

Here are some other truths that the Chancellor fails to, or is unable to understand.
  • Truth, that any  teacher that commits sexual misconduct is automatically terminated by the Arbitrator based upon the UFT-DOE contract Article 21G-6 pg 120.  It states the following.
          In 3020-a proceedings, a mandatory  penalty of discharge shall apply to any tenured pedagogue a) found by a hearing officer to have engaged in sexual misconduct or b) who have pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of criminal charges for such conduct.

  • Truth, the Chancellor claims that any SCI or OSI investigation that substantiates the charges, no matter how frivolous, is "proven". 
  • Truth, the independent Arbitrators are jointly appointed to one year terms by the DOE and UFT and can only be reappointed yearly when both sides agree that they are doing a good job.  Therefore, the Bloomberg/Walcott claim that the Arbitrators are influenced by the UFT in determining the penalty is a lie.
  • Truth, the Chancellor practices a "double standard" when it comes to Administrators and teachers, see here and here.
  • Truth, the Chancellor has blindly followed the Mayor's policy without question.
I must conclude that the Chancellor's idea of truth is vastly different than the common person.  In the Chancellor's world the truth is what he and the Mayor claims it is not what is real.