Sunday, January 29, 2012

Well, Well, Even Chancellor Walcott, Has Finally Admitted That The Small & Screened Schools Did Not Take Their Share Of Students With Disabilities.

After years of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellors Klein/Black/Walcott ignoring the very obvious statistics that showed that the small and screened schools excluded many students with disabilities and English Language Learners, the Chancellor is now facing the inconvenient truth that the Mayor's favored schools have failed to represent the communities they reside in. The Chancellor has issued an email that all schools, except the specialized schools, will have a student body that reflects the neighborhood they are located in. According to a New York Daily News article, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, has emailed the principals and told the small and screened schools that if their student body does not reflect the neighborhood the DOE will do it for them.

It is about time that the Chancellor addresses the inequalities associated with the school selection process. Why should the DOE be allowed to dump the many students with disabilities and English Language Learners in a school and then claim that the school is "failing"? If the Chancellor is serious (I suspect it will be all talk and no action, just like the cheating scandal) maybe this will level the playing field and stop the DOE from targeting the few remaining large comprehensive schools. If the Chancellor forces the principals to take their fair share of students with disabilities, will he also require that the amount of self-contained students are also proportional to the neighborhood schools? Knowing Tweed, I highly doubt that will be the case.

I suspect that the principals of the small and screened schools will take only those students who need "resource room" and are reasonably well behaved (still screened). The DOE will than look the other way when parents of self-contained students with disabilities find that their children were excluded from the schools and complain. All the while the Chancellor will falsely claim that his edict was followed and the schools represent the communities they reside in.

Success for the Chancellor as he made sure students with disabilities are accepted in the small and screened schools. Success for the small and screened schools as they take no self-contained students and limited amount of English Language Learners. Success for the DOE as they fool the mass media time and again with their phony student placement policy. However, a failure as the self-contained students with disabilities and English Language Learners who have serious educational needs are still excluded from these schools and are dumped in large numbers to schools targeted for closing in the near future.

To me it will end up as just another example of Tweed's "children last" policy. Especially, when it concerns the most needy of the students in the public school system.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Happens When A Restart/Transformation School Becomes A Turnaround School?

As everybody knows, the UFT and DOE failed to reach agreement on the "teacher evaluation system" based upon the appeals process. The UFT wants an independent Arbitrator to hear the "evidence" that the Principal rightly labeled the teacher "ineffective" While the DOE wants the appeals process to be decided by the Chancellor. Good luck to that. Caught in the middle is the 33 Restart/Transformation schools, many of them the large comprehensive high schools that the City has threatened to make "Turnaround Schools". This would allow the City to recoup $58 million dollars from the federal government that has been withheld by the State Education Department (SED). For the teachers in the 33 schools what will happen?

First, the 33 schools will no longer exist as is. Long Island City, Newtown, Bryant, Grover Cleveland, Richmond Hill, John Adams, Flushing, and August Martin High Schools in Queens will no longer exist. Instead all the schools will be renamed to reflect the themes that the Administration wants. Interestingly, unlike other "Turnaround Schools", the City schools will probably retain the old Administration and only get rid of the teachers.

Second, the schools will offer a maximum of 50% of the teachers at each school their jobs back. Yes, a maximum and some schools can offer only a minimum amount of teachers their old positions. The minimum number is as yet undecided by the DOE. You might think that this would open up opportunities for other teachers in the system to apply for the many openings. However, the DOE has decided to offer 40% of the open positions to teachers outside the school system or as you know them as the "newbies". Cheap and clueless in the classroom teachers who are in for a "culture shock" as the real world is very much different from the perception they are expecting. Unlike the new small schools who can limit or even exclude students with disabilities and English Language Learners, these 33 schools will keep the existing population and will not be able to exclude undesirable students as the small schools do.

Third, the teachers not selected will be excessed and become ATRs. It is expected that 1,750 additional teachers will be excessed and add an equal amount of ATRs as provisional appointments end and more budget cuts (6% for the 2012-2013 school year), it is very likely that there could be almost 4,000 ATRs in the New York City School System at a cost of $300 million dollars! That means for the measly $58 million dollars the State is withholding, it is going to cost $300 million dollars to keep all the teachers in the ATR pool. Unbelievable!

Finally, the DOE will use the ATR crises as a rallying point to try to defang the teachers' union and demand that the ATRs should be given a time limit. "No ATR time limit, no contract" will be the City's motto until the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration is removed from the scene. I hold UFT Michael Mulgrew to his promise not to give up the ATRs in any contract negotiations. Remember the DOE created the ATR crises, it is up to them to p,lace the ATRs in the vacancies throughout the school system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chaz Travels No More This School Year. However, The Real Work Is Just Begining.

I have been offered a provisional position in a high school for the rest of the school year and approach it with some trepidation. Taking over five Regents classes halfway through the school year is a problem and more so since these classes have been without a regular teacher for two months! When a teacher takes over a class that has been without a teacher for two months, it is going to take some time to get the students into academic shape.

First, and most importantly, I must impress upon my students that I am here to stay for the school year and I will be giving them a grade. If the students fail to grasp that reality, the class is destined to fail. Remember. if the students believe that there are no consequences to their failure to follow orders, you are in for a terrible time. Just ask all the weekly ATRs about their classroom experiences in the many NYC schools. Phillip Nobile described an experience he has had at a couple of the Brooklyn High Schools. The mere fact that you do not control their grade makes it almost impossible to control a class in the many low income and poverty-ridden community schools in the City.

Second, you must quickly evaluate each and every student in your classes. Some schools allow you access to their school records, many do not. I try to talk to both teachers who had the student previously and the deans about the student's academic and behavioral issues, if any.

Third, you must show your classroom management skills if you are to have any chance of getting the classes to pass the Regents. That means clear and consistent rules that apply to all. This is a real problem for many teachers, especially the "newbies" since classroom management skills are learned over a multi-year period.

Fourth, you need to have a complete understanding of the curriculum and be able to clearly present the topic so that the students understand what they are reading and doing. If the more academically challenged students are still having problems, then slow down and try to simplify the lesson by going back. The rest of the class will also benefit from this "look back" approach.

Fifth, you must connect with the students. They really need to respect you, not fear or disrespect you. Sure, there will always be a student or two who will not like you but if the majority of the class thinks you care about their academics, they will respond in a positive manner.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help from other teachers. Remember, you are new to the school and their culture and it is very important to rely on the senior teachers to enlighten you on the policies and procedures associated with the school environment.

The bottom line is that for me to succeed, I must show my classes that I am a "quality teacher" and that means demonstrating to my students that I have good curriculum knowledge, posses effective teaching skills, care about their academic well-being, and have appropriate classroom management. Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott, and E4E are you reading this?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Hero And Villain When It Comes To Teaching In the Classroom And Representing The Teachers.

I opened up today's New York Daily News and saw that two teachers were expressing their opinions on Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to give bonuses of up to $20,000 for teachers that principals rated "highly effective" for two consecutive years n the proposed "teacher evaluation system". On one side was Bloomberg's "fifth columnist" flunkies, Education 4 Excellence (E4E). The "tools" for the Education Reform leaders. On the other side was a Chapter Leader for one of the largest high schools in the New York City Public School System and as an independent thinker is not a "tool" for anybody.

First, lets discuss the villain, E4E education reformer "tool" and "fifth columnist", Ms. Margaret Copollo, who represent an organization that consists of the "clueless" and "newbie" teachers who are unable and unwilling to see the big picture that their Mayor is trying to destroy the teaching profession not reform it. E4E is founded and funded by ed deformer groups and gets support by the DOE who conveniently gave this cancerous organization the DOE email addresses of all the teachers in the 33 restart/transformation schools. The E4E then emailed a highly misleading and inaccurate letter about the teacher evaluation system to these school 's teaching staff. Unbelievable, but true. Ms. Copollo didn't even pretend to understand the Bloomberg bonus plan saying that it is a salary increase. Either she is misreading Bloomberg's bonus proposal or she is intentionally misguiding the reader as the E4E letter to the teaching staff at the restart/transformation schools did. In either case, she fails to explain that the $20,000 bonus may come out of the school budget and few principals will be inclined to give even the best teachers two consecutive "highly effective" ratings if it comes out of their increasingly tight budget. Finally, just like all her E4E "fifth columnist" comrades, she blames the teachers' union and not the DOE for the failure to retain the best teachers when almost all teachers will tell you it is the DOE that has made the classroom an increasingly hostile environment, with test prep being more important than good teaching. Further, she gives a free pass to the Mayor who attacks teachers consistently refusing to give them a contract he gave others and then tried to layoff over 4,000 of us last year. Ms. Copollo, shame on you and your cancerous organization E4E.

By contrast, I bring you my hero, a shining example of a "great teacher". Mr. Arther Goldstein, who is an independent Chapter Leader of a great high school and is nobody's "tool". I have had the pleasure of watching him teach and how well the students respond to him. His classroom management skills are emulated by many, including me, and has represented his school with distinction. If anybody deserves a bonus it is Arthur. He has time and again disagreed with his union and Administration and lets then know when their actions are contrary to the members interest. Furthermore, Arthur is an advocate for his teachers and unlike E4E, practices what he preaches by representing all the teachers in his school, regardless of their opinions. I doubt Arthur will ever get a $20,000 bonus since he is a great Chapter Leader and advocate for his staff and the students of the school. Therefore, I do not believe his Principal (who is a good Administrator by the way) will be giving Arthur two "consecutive highly effective" ratings anytime soon since, as a Chapter Leader, he can be a "pain in the ass" to him and take a badly needed $20,000 out of his tight budget.

Hero: Arthur Goldstein, Chapter Leader, student & teacher advocate and great teacher.

Villain: Margaret Copollo Fifth Columnist, ed deformer tool, and teaching skills unknown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Setback For Mayor Bloomberg's Education Policy As More NYC Public School Students Need Remedial Courses In Community Colleges.

We all know that Mayor Bloomberg's educational achievement is all "smoke and mirrors" and in today's New York Post the paper's education reporter Yoav Gonen exposed that fact . According to the Post article an astounding 78.4% of the 2011 NYC public school graduates who attended community college in the City were required to take remedial courses. This is an increase of 4% from the 2010 numbers 0f 74.4%. So goes any Bloomberg/Walcott claims of improving student academic achievement.

If Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, really want to improve student academic achievement then they should fund wraparound programs that start with the family and community since the social-economic issues are 80% of the problem for many of these students. Their claim that replacing 50% of the teachers in the 33 schools will really make a difference in student academic achievement is simply ridiculous. Changing the teaching staff is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic if the student population and their needs remain the same. Unless students and their family are given the resources and support to improve their academic outcomes, it is unrealistic to believe that bringing in a different teaching staff while ignoring the social-economic problems is the cure. Moreover, if the school fails to enforce student discipline codes (and many schools fail when it comes to student discipline) , no change in the schools will succeed. However, like all Education Reformers, the Mayor and Chancellor ignore the real world outside City Hall and the Tweed building and blame the Teachers' union and the teaching staff for the school ills rather than face up to the truth that their education policy is a complete failure.

Until the Mayor and Chancellor are gone from the scene it is "children last" always.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Union Must Stay Strong And Resist The Bullying Tactics By Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, & Commissioner King.

There is no doubt that the Governor, Mayor, and the State Education Department's (SED) Commissioner are bullying the teacher unions in accepting a flawed, untested, and objectionable "teacher evaluation system". Even the Principals across the State (except for the Leadership Academy Principals in New York City) have signed a petition asking that the "teacher evaluation system" be delayed until a pilot program is completed and evaluated. Commissioner King's response was to ignore the petition and go full steam ahead with a 40% testing component that almost all educators find objectionable. The result was that NYSUT went to court to block the 40% testing component and won an injunction. Furthermore, the DOE & UFT could not agree on the use of an Independent Arbitrator to determine if the teacher was really "ineffective" or was simply targeted by the Principal. In turn the DOE walked out of the talks and refused to have the disagreement mediated. The result was a major temper tantrum by the State Department of Education who blamed the unions for the impasse and the poor decisions by their own people.

Enter Governor Andrew Cuomo who backed Commissioner King and went on to say that the union influenced State Assembly did a disservice by requiring union approval. Now he is trying to bully the unions by issuing a 30 day ultimatum for NYSUT to drop their lawsuit on the 40% testing requirement and the UFT to submit to the DOE's appeal process with DOE approved hearing officers, similar to the "U" rating appeals. The Governor is trying to unravel the educational mess that he and the State Department of Education caused in the first place. Moreover, the Governor is trying to bribe the unions by adding money to the school districts that have a "teacher evaluation system" and punish them by withholding funds to school districts who cannot come to agreement with their unions.

The combination of the Governor, the Mayor, SED, and the news media onslaught might make the unions buckle but it is important that they stand firm and pressure the State Legislature to resist the bullying tactics and make sure that a fair "teacher evaluation system" is approved and if that means 4% less money for New York State schools in the short term, so be it. Protecting teacher "due process rights" and making sure that our students have a stable and experienced teaching staff is the priority here. Without teacher "due process" look for a constant teacher turnover as "newbie teachers" replaced experienced teachers at the expense of student academic achievement. It is "children first" isn't it Governor?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Response To Alexander Nazaryan 's Opinion Column In Which He Bashes The Union And Supports Bloomberg's Teacher Evaluation System.

In today's New York Daily News a four year teacher (I think, is he even tenured?) named Alexander Nazaryan blasted the union's position on the "teacher evaluation system" and supported Mayor Bloomberg's position in his opinion piece. Worse, he went on to praise his school Brooklyn Latin and the Principal while he insulted his previous school. He went on to compare his school with the schools in the South Bronx and actually blamed the union and the teachers for their poor results. After reading his disgusting and self-serving article about how great he is and how his Principal is god, I almost puked!. I also deplored the way he demonizes a Caribbean Assistant Principal and women in general in his old school in which me lasted a mere year in. Therefore, I decided to compare his school, Brooklyn Latin with a South Bronx High School Samuel Gompers and found these not so startling differences.

--------------Brooklyn Latin------------- Samuel Gompers

Admissions:---------Exam------------------------- None

Free Lunch---------- 62.3%----------------------- 85.3%

Special Ed------------ 1.2%------------------------ 25.7%

ELL------------------ 0.3%------------------------ 16.1%

School Uniform-------- Yes-------------------------- No

Ethnicity--------- 50% White & Asian--------- 2% White & Asian

-------------------50% Black & Hispanic----- 98% Black & Hispanic

Attendance----------- 95.1%----------------------- 72.4%

College Readiness------94.1%------------------------4.4%

Yes, he is this smug teacher and aspiring novelist who works in a specialized high school with highly motivated students, where peer pressure is to succeed and go to the best colleges (college readiness is 94.1%) and he dares to compare himself to the teachers in the South Bronx who must deal with a quarter of the student population with special needs and a number of English Language Learners. How arrogant can one be? I'm sure that discipline problems in his school are few and far between and if a student acts up, you can bet that the student will be expelled from the school. By contrast, Samuel Gompers gets their students from the rough and poverty stricken neighborhood surrounding the school. Over 85% of the students are eligible for free lunch and peer pressure is reflected in the poor attendance rates of the school. I guess if Alexander Nararyan was at Samuel Gompers, those absentee students would show up and he would solve the school's discipline problems.

I would not be surprised to find out that Alexander Nararyan is a member of that fifth column, Educators4Excellence since he, like the group blame the teachers union and teachers for the problems in the schools. No where in his article did he blame the social-economic problems affecting the student academic outcomes or admit that his school is part of the 1% of City schools that require a specialized entrance exam. His article is disingenuous and self-serving and he should be ashamed of himself to be used as a stooge for those education reformers who just want to destroy the other 99% of the schools.

Alexander Nararyan reminds me of Sargent Schultz since he sees nothing, knows nothing, and says nothing of importance when it comes to the New York City Public Schools.

Update: According to Gotham Schools Alexander Nararyan is now a former teacher. If true, I guess he couldn't even last five years. What a phoney.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Is Truly Clueless About What Goes On In The Classroom. His Proposal Is To Hire "Newbie Teachers" But Keep The Same Students.

Mayor4Life, Michael Bloomberg, shocked the education world with his State of the City Speech in which he laid out his highly distorted vision of how he will change the New York Public schools, starting in the 2012-13 school year. Behind his proposals were two themes: Keeping the $58 million dollar RTTT funds that the State is withholding and destroying the teachers' union. For the Mayor4Life this is his last chance to be taken seriously since next year will be his last year in office and "lame duck" Mayors have little power and influence as the Mayoral candidates ignore any controversial measures that can "piss off" the voters. Therefore, it is important for the Mayor4Life to show his failed legacy as the "Education Mayor". Up to now his education legacy has been all "smoke and mirrors" with flat student academic achievement, a large income/racial academic achievement gap, warehousing problem students in schools that he targets for closure only to see the small schools he championed eventually fail, and alienate school staff & parents with his "top down approach" of education reform that does not work. I could include the wasteful technology and consultant services that cost the City billions of dollars (Citytime) but you get the message.

The Mayor4Life has come out with an unworkable and poorly thought out education plan that includes the following items:

  • Change the 33 transformation/restart schools to the turnaround model which requires that 50% of the teachers be removed from the school and end up as ATRs. This is estimated to be 1,750 teachers and an additional $60 million dollars that the City would have to pay for teachers in the ATR pool. This will make the total cost of maintaining the ATR pool $100 million dollars or more. According to the union this cannot be done without their approval.
  • Give teachers who are rated "highly effective" for two years a $20,000 bonus. Notice, it's not a pay increase but a bonus so that it is temporary and does not affect the salary schedule. Moreover, who will pay the teacher the extra $20,000? The City, the DOE? or more likely will it come out of the school budget? If it is the latter, what Principal would give a teacher "highly effective" for two consecutive years if the money comes out of their budget? By the way doesn't Bloomberg know that all the studies ever done show that merit pay does not work?
  • Give the top 25% of college graduates $25,000 for student loan reimbursements if they last 5 years in the New York City Public Schools. Good luck to that. By the way who pays for that as well? Further, with 3,000+ ATRs roaming the schools, how can the City waste all that experienced talent while bringing in untested "newbie teachers". Wouldn't' you want your child to have an experienced teacher rather than a "newbie" who has a steep learning curve ahead of him or her? I certainly would not want my child to be the guinea pig with a "newbie teacher" who may never master the teaching profession.
  • The cost for all the Bloomberg proposals would be $100 million for the ATRs, $250 million for the "highly effective teachers" and another $100 million for student loan reimbursement for the "newbies". That means that the Mayor4Life is proposing to spend $450 million dollars to get the $58 million dollars from the State and he considers himself a financial genius?
  • Add 50 more Charter schools and increase the network for them. Who pays the cost? The City will and that is more money that will siphoned off from the Public schools to the 1% who runs these Charter school networks.

Back to the 33 restart/transformation schools. Will bringing in new teachers change the student academic outcomes in those schools? The answer is no. You cannot just rearrange the deck chairs and expect things to change for the better. The answer lies with the students. If you have the same type of students coming into the schools and the system continues to fail to provide wraparound services to these students such as family and community support, one to one tutoring, and adequate support services, how can you expect improvement? Moreover, not imposing a "zero tolerance policy" on student discipline is a recipe for failure. Changing the teaching staff in a school and doing nothing more as the Mayor4Life is demanding is the same thing as putting a bandage on an internal ulcer. it may look from the outside that you are treating it but in reality it does not cure the ulcer.

Most telling are the responses by UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Principals President Ernest Logan to Gotham Schools about the Mayor's education proposals.

From Mulgrew:

The Mayor seems to be lost in his own fantasy world of education, the one where reality doesn’t apply. It doesn’t do the kids and the schools any good for him to propose the kind of teacher merit pay system that has failed in school districts around the country. As far as the ‘turnaround’ model goes, the Mayor knows perfectly well that under state law these kinds of initiatives have to be negotiated with the union. If he’s really interested in improving the schools his administration has mishandled, he will send his negotiators back to the table to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation process.

And Logan:

At first glance, in the public eye, the Mayor’s remarks about schools may seem reasonable, but when you dig down, you realize how many of his proposals do little to help struggling schools. These schools are likely to continue struggling, not because 50% of the educators are supposedly incompetent, but because of the DOE’s student enrollment policies that place students who are over-age, under-credited, in temporary housing or dealing with involved special education needs in schools that are said to be low-performing. We must stop this kind of warehousing and give these children what they need to succeed.

Hopefully, when the city presents this plan to us and explains it fully, we will have fewer concerns.

In summary, changing a school's staff will not significantly change student outcomes and if it the same type of students go to the school, the academic achievement will, at best, remain unchanged and probably get worse. To my union. "stay firm and don't let the Mayor4Life lie and bully you in giving up teacher "due process rights".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Mayor4Life and His Pet PoodleThe Chancellor Demands That Only The Principal Can Evaluate Teachers. Why This Is A Very Bad Idea.

Over the last couple of days both the Mayor4Lfe, Micheal Bloomberg, and his pet poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, have made statements that supports even the worst principal actions as unworthy of their removal. For example, take the case of Principal John Chase Jr. who has been found guilty of "sexual harassment" by the DOE's Office Of Equal Opportunity under Chancellor's Regulation A-830. With two more separate investigations still ongoing. The real question is why wasn't SCI investigating this?

The Principal, John Chase Jr, who sources claim mainly hired young and pretty "newbie" female teachers for a tough, urban high school, (seven of the eight teachers he hired were young and female) has been accused time .and again by the female staff of inappropriate sexual comments and uninvited behaviors. Incredibly, the DOE did not fire the Principal. The only punishment given to this perv Principal was "sensitivity training". The article can be found here. In fact there is a protest today Link that includes the local politicians, political leaders, staff, and parent groups. More importantly, the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) is also joining the protest. Yet, what does the Mayor's Poodle say about the Principal?

“I’m not going to remove him, but he knows he cannot have any similar type of comments. He is on a very strict line as far as his behavior,” .

Moreover, the Mayor4Life on a radio show said principals like John Chase Jr. should have full control of teacher evaluation nobody how sleazy they are. He said the following:

The principals’ job is to decide who’s good, who’s bad. It’s their judgement, that’s their job.” The Mayor further argued that occasionally subjective actions is simply the way that things work with bosses.

According to the Mayor4Life Principal John Chase Jr. can sexually harass his female staff and if they refuse his advances, he can just rate them "ineffective" and terminate them.

Principal Chase is another poor example of a "Leadership Academy Principal" and the Mayor4Life and his pet poodle, the Chancellor, should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this outrageous case of a double standard.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Once Traveling ATR Signs A Provisional Appointment At His New School.

The traveling ATR here, I have discontinued my blog for the rest of the school year and will post on my good friend Chaz's blog as a guest blogger. I have been in my new school a couple of weeks and I was called down to the office to sign my "Provisional appointment agreement" that leaves me in the school until the end of the school year. What does the "provisional appointment agreement" say? You can read it here. The "provisional agreement" allows either the Principal or the teacher to terminate the agreement in writing by June 15 or anytime before the date.

The teachers in the department are friendly and helpful and the Administration has left me alone, so far. The students are starting to realize that I am their teacher for the year and control their grade. Therefore, some of the students that misbehaved my first week are calming down. The students are almost two months behind the other classes because of a lack of a teacher and I have to get them on task and into a rhythm quickly if I am to prepare them for the Regents. in June.

The problems I have in taking over classes this far into the school year are many. I need to get to know 150 new names and try to evaluate their abilities. No easy task when you are trying to get the class into a learning mode. Further, I must get to understand the school's culture and teacher responsibilities. For example I was just told on Friday that I have been assigned to a working group during my professional period and have no clue what this working group has been doing and how do I fit in? Finally, this is a "restart school" and so I am supposed to be familiar with the teacher evaluation framework for teacher observations. Of course, I am totally clueless and am wondering how I will be evaluated?

Overall, I must admit I really enjoy teaching again and my being in one school teaching a meaningful subject is preferable to traveling all over Queens and be treated as a "tool" by the school's Administration and disrespected by the students. I hope the union dos not agree to the ATR weekly assignments next year. ATRs should be placed in one school and have a classroom position before the schools should be allowed to hire other teachers. No other proposal is acceptable.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Why The Union Refused To Agree With The DOE's Conditions On The Teacher Evaluation System - No Teacher "Due Prtocess Rights"!

The framework of the teacher evaluation system that the DOE & UFT agreed to for the 33 restart/transformation schools is now little more than an exercise in futility as the two parties could not agree on what the final product would be. Despite the uproar in the daily tabloids, education reform organizations, and those fifth columnists at E4E, the major reason was the DOE's insistence in eliminating teacher "due process rights".

The problem with DOE's proposal is that if the teacher received two consecutive"ineffective" ratings from an Administrator the teacher would be immediately terminated, with only an appeal to a DOE hearing officer allowed while no longer receiving a paycheck. Based upon Leo Casey's analysis in the "U" rating appeal hearings, the teacher would have a 0.2% chance of success. Or one out of 433 cases overturned! That means that once a Principal targeted a teacher, that teacher was as good as terminated without any reasonable chance of appealing the decision in two years. By contrast, under the existing procedures, the Principal would need to give the targeted teacher three consecutive annual "U" ratings and the teacher would still have the right to have his or her case heard by an independent Arbitrator under the 3020-a State regulations, while still on the payroll to determine if the DOE can terminate the teacher.

Under the DOE's proposal, the Principal's decision is final because, according to the DOE, the Principal's decision "comes from god" and no Principal would give an unfair rating to a teacher that would jeopardize a teacher's career. It matters little to Tweed that many of these Principals have been exposed as petty, vindictive, incompetent, and worse. To Tweed, the Principal can do no wrong and even when they do, they are simply given a slap on the wrist and maintain their control of the school. Many of the more recent cases can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. Yet the DOE wants these principals, many with little or no classroom experience to determine whether a teacher is "effective" or "ineffective". This is especially true of "Leadership Academy Principals" who make up 19% of the Principals in New York City. Had the union agreed to the DOE's proposal, it would be open season on veteran teachers.

The union did the right thing by opposing the DOE's attempt to eliminate teacher "due process rights" and need to hold firm against the media onslaught by the education reformers whose real agenda is to destroy the teacher unions and the public school system.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Fifth Column, "Educators4Excellence" Shows Their True Colors By Signing A Letter That Destroys Teacher "Due Process Rights".

The Educators4Excellence (E4E) cult, lead by Evan Stone & Sydney Morris, two failed teachers who couldn't last in the classroom over three years, have finally tipped their hand by signing on to the education reformer letter to Governor Cuomo asking that the Governor require a "default plan" teacher evaluation system be developed by the New York State Education Department and to be imposed on the School Districts. This "default plan" would bypass the "union's collective bargaining rights" and all but eliminate teacher "due process rights".

My question to those phonies at E4E is how can you claim to support the rights of the teachers you represent when you put your organization (cult) against the union's "collective bargaining rights" and eliminate teacher "due process rights"? How are teachers who are unfairly targeted by vindictive principals protected by this "default plan"? My guess is you really don't care about screwing the teachers you claim to represent. The union did the right thing by opposing the elimination of teacher "due process rights" by requiring that principals prove to an independent Arbitrator that the targeted teacher is truly "ineffective". Even the principals throughout New York State have been signing a petition opposing the teacher evaluation system as hastily developed, unproven, and too reliant on questionable testing protocols. Furthermore, over 1,130 principals and counting have signed the online petition and yet E4E, who claims to represent teachers , falls lockstep into the teacher bashing education reform agenda.

For those teachers who have been lured by the false promises of E4E, please open your eyes and see that this cult is not out to protect your rights" or put "children first". E4E's real agenda is to destroy public education and make teaching a temporary job where tenure and teacher "due process rights" are no longer allowed in their new "hire and fire" world. Remember, who do you think funds them? Right! education reformers not educators. Is it any wonder that E4E does the bidding of those education reform organizations and not what is best for the teachers. Shame on E4E in putting the interests of their education reform masters ahead of the teachers they claim to represent.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Why It's A Good Thing That The DOE and The UFT Failed To Agree To A Flawed And Destructive Teacher Evaluation System.

Back in 2009 the Obama Administration bribed the States into education reform by allocating up to $700 million under their Race To The Top (RTTT) program. The RTTT program really does not lead to any classroom improvement and the money cannot be used to hire teachers, reduce class sizes, and to purchase supplies or textbooks to the classroom. Instead, the money is to be used for consultants, testing, innovative & Linkachievement coaches, and other office specialists. In other words a new layer of unaccountable Bureaucracy that are not even school based. In addition, the RTTT funds are also used for useless professional development. However, the most controversial aspect of the RTTT program was the "teacher evaluation system". Yes, this is the same system that the State of Tennessee implemented only to realize that it does not work. And yes, this is the same program that 1,130 principals and counting have already signed a petition asking for the "teacher evaluation system" to be delayed and start a pilot program instead to identify the strengths or weaknesses of it. Even the "2010 outstanding educator" as voted on by the School Administrators Association of New York State, Carol Corbett Burns, has written an article against it's use. However, the State has so far turned a blind eye to the principals petition and are threatening the nine school districts who have been given federal funds to transform or restart schools.

The DOE desperately wants the "teacher evaluation system", not only because they receive money but it is a way to eliminate highly-paid veteran teachers without an independent hearing process. Furthermore, it allows principals to terminate veteran teachers who they do not like or want after two years. The DOE wants to terminate teachers who get two "ineffective ratings" and any appeal will stay within the DOE's kangaroo court. In other words there would be no teacher "due process". While the union wants the "due process" to continue, where an independent Arbitrator would decide if the teacher's "ineffective ratings" were based upon his or her teaching ability or a Principal's dislike of the teacher.

The DOE already has an appeal process in place, it is called the "U" rating appeal and Leo Casey of the UFT did an analysis of the "U" rating appeals process and found these troubling statistics. Yes of 1,300 cases Leo Casey looked at, only 3 "U" rating appeals were successful! The same would happen if the DOE got its way on the "teacher evaluation system". Furthermore, to rely on principals to evaluate teachers without questioning their motives is unacceptable. Remember these cases? Here, here, and here and there are may more cases that go unreported in the media. By the way, why is it that State exempted Charter schools from having to follow the "teacher evaluation system"?

Better to lose $60 million dollars on unnecessary and wasteful RTTT programs that don't help the classroom then to watch veteran teachers lose their "due process" rights and being terminated by vindictive principals who don't like them.