Outside of our union leadership, the ultra-leftist elite, and racial arsonists, there is a groundswell of support for the police and the difficult job they do to keep our big city safe. I remember how scarey it was to walk in the city at night and in some neighborhoods at any time of the day in the 80's and 90's but thanks to the police officers and their dedication to make our streets safe, that's just a bad memory. However, our President, Michael Mulgrew, and his lackeys unwisely used member funds to co-sponsor Al Sharpton's anti-police march in Staten Island last weekend. Its time that the rank and file of the UFT show their appreciation and support of our fellow union members by wearing blue on Tuesday, the first day of school.
The idea originated from teachers in Staten Island and I strongly support the wearing blue campaign and it won't cost any union member one red cent. Please show your support for your fellow union members by wearing blue on the first day of school. I will.
Yes, the same old DOE has once again, secretly held a job fair for the remaining vacancies in the school system and excluded the ATRs. According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew this is supposed to be the new DOE attitude of cooperation and understanding that he bragged about. It seems to me that little has changed when it comes to the DOE.
The DOE job fair was held on Tuesday, August 26th at the Armory in Washington Heights and according to my sources the UFT was there as well which brings up the question why didn't the UFT object to this exclusionary DOE job fair? The answer is obvious, the UFT aided and abetted the DOE in excluding ATRs so that the DOE can continue to claim that the ATRs are not looking for jobs.
Unfortunately, the UFT is more the problem then the solution when it comes to adequately representing its members. Its the only municipal union that allows the City to bestow "second class citizenship" on some of its members and looks the other way when the DOE tries to punish the members a second time when they failed to terminate them in a 3020-a process. Is it any wonder that the ATRs don't trust the union leadership?
While I still believe in the protections union membership gives me, I realize thatthisdisconnected UFT leadership is not doing their job.I need to rely on myself to uphold my rights and asking the union leadership to do their job is simply a pipe dream. To me its the same old "gotcha mentality" in the DOE and a union that looks the other way when its most vulnerable of members are targeted.
The union, in their press release, has informed the members that our 2% raise for the yeas 2013 and 2014 will be in our second check of the fall (September 30th). Included in the raises will be the retro payments for the same time period, or so the union claims. The per session retro payments for the 2013 and 2014 period will be sent out on October 3rd. Just to remind you, we get 1% for each of the two years, starting from May 1, 2013 and May 1, 2014 so the retro payments will be low, probably averaging about $750 for the average teacher salary.
Interestingly, "newbie teachers" will be getting a more significant raise of 4.3% ($2,000) as both the UFT and DOE encourage the hiring of new teachers at the expense of retaining experienced teachers who are stuck with the measly 2% increase in their salary in the DOE's "education on the cheap" policy.
Finally, most of the teachers will be getting their final ratings the day they return to school, September 2nd and there may be some very unhappy educators as a result. Hopefully, the number of "ineffective or developing" educators are small but for the ones that get that designation, remember, you need two "ineffectives" so make sure it doesn't happen this school year.
One of my quotes on my blog is "A union that allows its members to be disrespected, is a union that no longer deserves the respect of its members". Unfortunately, our union has lived up to this quote, be it the contract that made ATRs a second class citizen, screwing ex-members who didn't retire, or using member funds for non-educational or politicalreasons.In addition, our union leadership has negotiated a vastly inferior contract that defers our 8% raises and retro payments till as late as 2020! Hopefully, one does not die or resign before the raises are paid out.
The union has become increasingly disconnected with its members as there is little accountability by
the union leadership to show that they are representing the interests of its members rather than their own interests. A case in point is President Michael Mulgrew using his position as President of the UFT to issue an "Action Alert" to co-sponsor and provide funding to Al Sharpton's police bashing march. Its one thing to march as a private citizen but its another when you circumvent your member wishes and put the union's money and prestige at the service of a racially divisive march, led by a known racial arsonist, anti-Semite, and tax deadbeat.
I have never been more embarrassed and angry about the direction our union leadership is traveling, hugging the Chancellor while she made ATRs second class citizens and praising the new DOE attitude while saying little when the DOE kept the "fair student funding" and froze school budgets. Need I remind one of the union's support of the badly flawed teacher evaluation system? Moreover, if you disagree with Common Core, Mr. Mulgrew will "punch you in the face". Finally, the contract negotiated with the De Blasio Administration was based upon making the City look good at the expense of the members.
New York State Education Department proudly claimed that the Common Core based, high stakes tests showed that the small improvements were proof that their policy is working. Of course, what NYSED failed to mention was that the State lowered the "cut scores" that accounted for most, if not all of the improvements. Furthermore, many more students decided to "opt out" this time. Finally, the NYSED Commissioner's conclusion that "poverty is not destiny" is not supported by the very information that he presented in the press conference. Unfortunately, the NYSED data shows the continued inequality between Black and White communities that is reflected nationwide and shows up in the racial/income academic achievement gap.
Interestingly, the NYSED Commissioner John King said in "putting the lipstick on the pig", by hailing the results as showing that the State's education policy is working, I wonder what kind of glasses he was using to make that statement? Moreover, he claimed that poverty is not destiny crowd has been proven wrong by the results. Really? He showed a scatter graph that indicated that some schools with high poverty levels did well. Of course he failed to mention that the schools were either screened academically or were the Charter schools that have exclusionary policies to eliminate many of the poor performing or disruptive students before they reach the third grade. The scatter graph does show that the deeper the poverty rate of a school, the lower the test scores. It seems that Mr. King should go back to school and understand what his own graph shows before he makes claims that are false. A column by "Ed the Apple" explains further about the State's flawed conclusion as Mr. Goodman shows that there were no high achieving schools in zip codes with deep poverty. Furthermore, based on the NYS data, many schools in the predominately White/Asian District 26 had a 70% passing rate while the heavily Black District 27 had many schools that had close to a 0% passing rate! No racial/income academic achievement gap there. It must all be about the teachers Mr. King.
I have made no secret for my contempt of the UFT leadership's use of our union dues and COPE money for questionable causes and political action that gives its members no say in the matter. Since the union leadership feels that its members don't count when it comes how they spend our money, this post is dedicated to those members, who believe as I do, that our hard earned money should not go to our quail eating leadership or supporting a racial arsonist like Al Sharpton, who has never apologized for his false rape accusations, anti-Semitic statements, or his failure to pay his overdue taxes, like the rest of us are required to do. All our money should be going to making our profession better and the classroom a less hostile place. The union took in $6 million dollars of COPE contributions last year and that should be used for the members, nobody else!
If you want to withdraw your COPE contributions, one of my anonymous commenters was kind enough to supply the information. Below, in red is the procedure.
How to cancel your COPE contributions from your paychecks:
Please send a fax requesting to cancel your COPE contribution. The information they need from you is displayed below.
will send a cancellation card to your address on file along with a
pre-paid return envelope so that you can fill out the card and send it
back right away. As part of procedure, they must also receive the
following fax from you:
RE: COPE Cancellation TO: Danny Corum, COPE Coordinator
My name is ___________, File # _______________. I would like to cancel my COPE contribution as soon as possible.
[SIGNATURE] [PRINTED NAME]
do not forget to sign and print your name on the fax. The fax should be
sent to (212)510-6435. Your contribution will be cancelled when they
receive the fax and the cancellation card back from you. Please do not
hesitate to contact them at (212)598-6826 or at firstname.lastname@example.org should
you have further questions.
Danny Corum COPE Coordinator United Federation of Teachers Legislation & Political Action 52 Broadway, 15th Floor New York, NY 10004 email@example.com phone: (212)598-6826 fax: (212)510-6435
Maybe if enough of the members stop contributing to COPE, our union leadership might get the message and start listening to member concerns and not misuse money for their own personal ideology and needs.
Since the beginning of my blog, I have questioned some of the money that our leadership has given or spent on programs that many of the rank and file do not support. In fact, my very first blog post was about the non-educational programs that our hard earned money was going to and I objected to it since it was not going to further the education agenda which it should have gone to. Over the years, the UFT leadership has been using member dues and COPE funds for very questionable uses. Remember the very embarrassing quail incident? If that wasn't enough the UFT's Paul Egan, who caused the uproar, also gets paid a very handsome salary paid for by us. When I go to a UFT function, I get cookies and, if lucky, a wrap, not a $40 meal of quail and booze while picking up the tab for 24 of his union friends on our dime.
This is the very same UFT who refuses to go after vindictive school administrators because they are fellow union members, while supporting an anti-police march. Aren't the police officers fellow union members too? How can the UFT leadership talk out of both sides of their mouth and justify the use of the rank and file funds for this purpose?
A man I respect very much is Pat Lynch, the head of the police union, who is very upset with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and minced few words criticizing the UFT for the substandard contract the UFT negotiated with the De Blasio administration and the co-sponsoring the anti-police march organized by Al Sharpton. Rather than rehash what he said, you can read it Here.
That brings me to the UFT's COPE contribution that's supposed to be used for legitimate lobbying for the interest of its members. Over the years I have been increasingly disappointed in how our COPE contributions have been spent. When I first started teaching, my Chapter Leader, recommended that I contribute $5 a paycheck and that's what I did since I naively thought all the money was going to make our profession better. As I become more and more disenchanted with the union's priorities, I reduced my COPE contribution to $1 per paycheck. By the time I started my blog, I reduced it to the minimum $0.50. Once the Quail fiasco hit the newspapers, I realized that our COPE money was being misused and I stopped contributing altogether. I sent a letter to UFT headquarters to the COPE coordinator stating I no longer wanted to contribute to COPE and had my Chapter Leader sign the release form sent back to me and that was all I had to do.
Until our union decides to include the rank and file in how our money is spend, I will not give a penny to COPE and neither should you..
Despite assurances from UFT President Michael Mulgrew that all the members will get back every dollar owed to them, it now appears that the City and UFT have worked out an agreement that there will be no retroactive increases for per session pay for the 2009-14 time period. Why do I believe this is the case? It turns out the new per session pay rate has increased by only 2%, (instead of the 2.12% when the 2013-14 retro is included) from $41.98 to $42.82 starting this summer, that's why. The per session increase of 2% does not include any retro payments from 2009 to 2014, as promised by Michael Mulgrew. Had these retro payments been included, the new per session rate would be much higher.
While I understand that calling Michael Mulgrew's claims of getting all our retro payments into question may cause him to place me on his list of trying to punch me in the face, I stand by my analysis that his claims appears to be false. In fact, this is another example of a group of his members being screwed by the union leadership and the City. Now it seems that all the members who put in for per session activities between 2009 and 2014 will not be getting any more money after all. Had all the retroactive raises been incorporated in the new per session rate, the per session rate would be $46.18 not $42.82. This tells me that the City has no intention of paying members any more per session money, based upon the new per session rate and the union has apparently allowed it to happen.
To all the members who were assured by our union representatives that all the retros will be paid, here is another example of our union not telling us the truth. The real truth is that the DOE agreed not to adjust the per session pay of $41.98 that was paid out between November of 2009 and June 2014 for the new per session rate. That's the only answer why the new per session rate is only $42.82 and not much higher. Therefore, don't expect any additional checks coming to the members who were looking for a payday of $1,000 or more owed to them for their per session work for the 2009-14 time period.
It seems as the contract terms become clearer, the long list of members being screwed just grows. The ATRs, ex members who resigned or were terminated, newly minted administrators, members who died in service, went on disability or unpaid leave, and now added to the list are the members who worked per session. The list continues to grow with the new contract. I hate to think who's next to be screwed by the contract down the road. Hopefully its not you.
Remember the chart the UFT put out? It shows that we should have received the 2013 and 2014 retro raises, Here.
Over the Bloomberg years and in the beginning of the De Blasio Administration, the New York Post, echoed the education reformer slogan that a great teacher in every classroom is the major factor in closing the racial/income academic achievement gap. To the New York Post it wasn't tight school budgets, a bloated DOE bureaucracy, large class sizes, unqualified administrators, social-economic factors, or family. It was about firing teachers for any or no reason at all and making sure every classroom had an effective teacher. Just like the education reformers, the New York Post would write editorials saying that the quality of the teacher is the most important factor in a child's educational development while ignoring the fact t5hat the schools were hiring the cheapest and not the best teachers for the schools.
However, in an attempt to dump on Bill de Blasio's inequality agenda, the New York Post editorial cited poverty as the root cause of the gap, the blind spot that all education reformers ignore. That;s right, the New York Post editorial finally admits its the elimination of poverty that needs to occur if the inequality gap is to be closed. The editorial claims that raising the minimum wage, universal pre-k, and affordable rents are praiseworthy, however, the real problem is poverty. Interesting how the New York Post all of a sudden claims poverty is the major factor in the inequality gap when it suits their purpose to belittle Mayor De Blasio's plans but never questions education reformers on this same issue? What a hypocrite the New York Post is.
One needs to just look at the John Hopkins study to realize its poverty and family that is the most important factors in reducing the inequality gap, not a great teacher in every classroom.Its time the education reformers and their media allies admit it.
Even before the Open Market Transfer System had closed on August 7th, principals were trying to hire teachers outside the DOE approved process, be it, the open market, ATR pool, or new teacher finder programs. A couple of years ago, I uncovered a school who advertised on Craigslist and it was reported to the union leadership who chose not to make an issue of it. Now I have seen two separate Craigslist advertisements. One being from a well regarded school, Bayside high school. The school's Craigslist advertisement is found below. _________________________________________________________
Bayside High School Teaching
Positions (Bayside High School - Bayside, NY)
compensation: Per most recent UFT
Bayside High School anticipates that
the following positions will be available for September 2014:
-Commercial Art (Digital Art)
-Computer Programming (Computer Technology)
-Media Communications (Music Production/Recording Arts Technology)
-Technology Education (Environmental Engineering)
-Natural Resources & Ecology (Environmental Engineering)
-Drafting/CAD (Environmental Engineering)
-Business and Marketing (Non-Profit Management)
-Sports Medicine/Personal Training
-SWD Social Studies ___________________________________________________
That's right, the school is advertising for 16 vacancies outside the approved DOE hiring process. If you noticed, there is no requirement to have a valid teaching license or be certified. Is this Craigslist advertisement the exception? Unfortunately, its not. If you look at the picture next to this paragraph you will
see another school advertising for an 8th grade Science teacher on Craigslist. The question is what is the DOE doing about this? Better yet, will the union do the right thing and demand that the DOE follow their own rules and regulations and punish these schools for circumventing the hiring procedures. I won't hold my breath waiting for the DOE and the UFT to take action.
The DOE issued a press release that claimed that 9% of the ATRs took the buyout and it will cost $1.8 million dollars. Moreover, the DOE estimates it will save the agency $15 million dollars next year. Sounds good? However, what is obvious is that vast majority of the ATRs that took the buyout were retiring anyway! Therefore, the DOE's estimated cost savings of $15 million dollars is all "smoke and mirrors". Furthermore, the DOE's "fuzzy math" does not account for the retirement costs such as pension, health care, and the retroactive raises and lump sum payments. The DOE press release falsely assumes that all the ATRs who took the buyout resigned rather than retired which is the contrary of what really happened.
DOE's Fuzzy Math:
The DOE press release also claims there was 1,300 ATRs (1,131 teachers) that had UFT titles in the pool in the Spring. However, it didn't include ATRs who were filling long-term leave replacements or provisional vacancies and were temporarily removed from the ATR pool. These ATRs were also eligible for the ATR buyout and if you accept the union number that approximately 50% of the ATRs are placed in a school by the end of the year to fill these positions, the real number of ATRs would be closer to 2,600 (2,262 teachers). Therefore, the fact that only 115 ATRs (97 teachers) took the buyout, the real percentage is 4% not 9% as the DOE press release claims.
DOE's Toolbox Spin:
The DOE claims they will be reducing the ATR pool by placing ATRs in vacancies after October 16th. However, the DOE admits there is no "mutual consent", the ATR has no say in the placement or interview. Worse, if the ATR fails to show up for an interview or refuses to take a position, the ATR will be considered to have resigned and not receive their retro and lump sum payments. While there are no "forced placements" for principals, there are for ATRs.
DOE's Wishful Thinking::
Finally, the DOE believes that there will be less ATRs in the pool; but since principals are allowed to hire who they want and are hiring the cheapest teachers they can fit into their tight school budgets, the DOE will see either the same or even more ATRs than last year. That brings me to Chancellor Carmen Farina's quote
developing a world-class school system, and to do that, we need
world-class teachersucating our students. We are pleased that through
this educator's contract, we were able to develop a process that is
mutually beneficial for the DOE by reducing spending and for the
teachers who have chosen to leave. And we are doing so while respecting
mutual-consent hiring. There is no forced placement of these teachers.”
Looking at the quote you can see where the inaccuracies are right away/
Hiring the cheapest and not the best teachers do not make for a world-class teaching staff.
There is no mutual consent hiring since the ATR has no right to refuse an interview or placement.
There is forced placement since the ATR must accept an offered position.
The ATR pool with its "second class citizens" and "untouchables" is a product of the DOE and UFT and my advise if you are an ATR be careful, very careful, because the DOE is out to get you and the UFT is its willing partner to shove you out the door.
This June, John Hopkins published a study called "Children's Life Trajectories Largely Determined By The Family They Were Born Into". The study showed that the family and poverty were the most important factors in determining a child's fate as an adult. This study followed 790 children in Baltimore as they entered first grade in 1982 and ended when these children became 28 or 29 year old adults in 2004-05. The results were disappointing if you are an education reformer since it shows that the two major factors were unrelated to the school the child went to. The two factors are family and poverty. You can hear the study Here.
The John Hopkins study just reinforces the many previous studies that show that a child's social economic factors were the major factor in a child's development. Most of these studies show that the school environment contributes to anywhere between 10-20% of a child's academic achievement and some studies show an even less of an impact. Obviously, the John Hopkins study supports this as well. Sure, that an amazing teacher is nice to have but the major driving force for students are outside the classroom and lies with the family's financial condition and the community that the child grows up in.
The John Hopkins study found the following from children who grew up in low income backgrounds:
Almost no children from a low income household made it through college.
Only white males from a low income family, without a college degree found high paying jobs.
Low income women did much netter when they were married or in a committed relationship.
Low income men had a criminal conviction rate of 41% (white) to 49% (black)
The study convincingly shows that growing up in a low income family makes life difficult to find success as an adult.
That brings me to the education reformers who ignore the major factors of family and poverty that accounts for 80% or higher of a child's fate and instead concentrates on eliminating teacher tenure and "due process rights" as if that will magically result in better student outcomes. Of course as any educator knows it won't. If Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock, and Bill Gates really want to help students as they claim, then they need to use their wealth and influence to eliminate poverty and improve access to good paying jobs and most importan tly, keep the fathers as part of the family rather than relying on single mothers to carry the load. As the graph above shows, the deeper the community is in poverty, the lower the academic scores the children produce. The Annenberg Institute report showed almost the same correlation for New York City when they used communities Ignoring the effect of family and poverty and blaming it on teachers is not only wrong but results in the continuing failure of these cohort of child as they advance through the education system without the proper and necessary family and financial support necessary to narrow the academic achievement gap.
I was watching the Colbert Report with the clueless Campbell Brown who told the host that it takes an average of 830 days to get rid of an incompetent teacher. However, like usual, she got it wrong. She was using old and outdated data from 2004-08 and these figures were not the average but the longest cases it took to get a decision According to the State School Board Association, the average tine for a decision during this time period, from start to finish, was 520 days and excluded New York City cases. The latest data shows a much swifter 3020-a process and that for 2013 it took only 177 days to complete the State 3020-a process, including a decision, and 190 days for the New York City cases (the union claims its 150 days for the last two years 2012-13).
It would appear that if Campbell Brown tries to use the lengthy 3020-a process as a major factor for her lawsuit, it will fail since the days when it took two or more years to reach a decision is a thing of the past and for most educators the entire 3020-a process rarely goes beyond a year.
This is yet another example of the clueless Campbell Brown using outdated and false statistics to try to prove her case. Interestingly, in her long ago cancelled cable show her slogan was "no bias, no bull". However, she violates that slogan by advocating for school districts to terminate teachers for any reason and at any time without giving them their "due process rights". What a hypocrite she is. For her it's not children first but to destroy teachers and their tenure, plain and simple.
In today's New York Post, an article was written on how the DOE has wasted over a billion dollars since 2005 to get ATRs to leave the system but for the most part, failed to do so. The article was light on facts and didn't really discuss-the ATR issue in detail. However, the article reflected the DOE's frustration of paying hundred of millions of dollars annually in the last eight years to keep the ATR pool rather then putting them back into the classroom where they belong. The NY Post article states that the DOE's ATR buyout, that ends tomorrow, is expected to be an utter failure with few ATRs actually taking the inadequate buyout.
Interestingly, the DOE told the New York Post that while all vacancies posted after October 15th must be filled by an ATR, the Principal has the right to remove the ATR from the position after only one day for no reason whatsoever. Moreover, the DOE apparently told the New York Post that "ALL TEACHERS WHO WENT THROUGH THEIR 3020-a PROCESS AND WON HAVE A PROBLEM CODE ON THEIR FILE! That's right the ATRs have their own "Scarlet Letter"! That means that principals who look at an ATR's file will see the "red flag" on the file and will not offer the vacancy to the teacher no matter how qualified the teacher is.
Unfortunately, the article didn't explain the "fair student funding" that discourages principals from hiring teachers due to their high salaries or that the four "job fairs" this summer excluded invitations to ATRs to participate in. While James Eterno was quoted, it consisted of a two sentence statement that said the DOE's policies will not eliminate the ATR pool and the ATRs need to be placed. Otherwise, the article was slanted to the DOE's position.
Finally, the ideological slant of the New York Post was obvious in this article as they called the ATRs "outcasts".
The education reform groups and their deep pocketed hedge fund supporters have decided to go to the courts to attack teacher tenure, claiming that teacher tenure protects bad teachers and hurts poor and minority children. Led by the clueless Campbell Brown who claims that she doesn't want to eliminate teacher "due process rights" but to reform it. However, when asked how she would reform it, she was vague on what the specifics were for reforming tenure. What we do know about Campbell Brown is that she called for the firing of all teachers accused of sexual misconduct. According to Ms. Brown simply having a DOE assigned investigator substantiate the accusation is the only proof needed to fire the teacher. In her warped vision no real or relevant evidence is necessary to show that the teacher, in fact, committed sexual misconduct. When it was brought to her attention that the DOE investigation process does not determine guilt or innocence, only whether, in their opinion, the possibility exists that sexual misconduct did occur. Ms Brown decided the Chancellor should then have the final say in terminating the teacher and not an independent or impartial arbitrator who is trained to hear and evaluate real and relevant evidence.
Campbell Brown does not want teacher "due process rights" what Campbell Brown wants is to give a school district the right to fire a teacher without a fair or impartial hearing. Sure she supports a school district hearing but she knows full well that an internal hearing almost always results in termination. Just take a look at the "U" rating appeals by the NYCDOE where only 0.2% were reversed by DOE hearing officers. Similar percentages are probably true for discontinued teachers who never achieved tenure. The same results are likely if the DOE had the right to determine the fate of a tenured teacher and not an independent arbitrator.
That brings me to the DOE investigation process which I believe is corrupt, especially when the Principal wants the teacher gone from the school. When a teacher is subject to either an OSI or SCI investigation, the first thing the investigators do is to talk to the Principal. If the Principal likes the teacher, the worst that could happen to the teacher is a letter to a file . However, if the Principal dislikes the teacher, the two investigative agencies will substantiate the most frivolous of charges, including unfounded hearsay and have the teacher removed and subject to 3020-a charges.
If Campbell Brown gets her wish any politically motivated investigation of a teacher by a school district would almost certainly result in that teacher's termination, even when the charges are false, that's not "due process".