Friday, January 27, 2017

The DOE Sees Nothing Wrong With Large Class Sizes And Fair Student Funding.

This week the NYC Council's Education Committee held hearings on teacher recruitment and retention at City Hall. Appearing for the DOE was Amy Way at the DOE's Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality and Anna Commitante, Senior Executive Director of the Office of Curriculum. Both DOE Bureaucrats faithfully echoed Chancellor Carmen Farina's famous statements that "80 hours of rigorous professional development weekly" and  "high-quality curricula" is the best strategy to attract and retain teachers.  Of course, most school-based professional development has been a colossal waste of time and the disconnect between the graduation rate and the "college and career readiness" rates show that students are graduating unprepared for college or the job market.

When asked by committee members what other strategies the DOE was implementing to stop high teacher turnover, especially in the high poverty schools, the DOE response was to push for "professional learning communities".  A non-starter to the committee members. At no point did either DOE official mention lower class sizes despite the many studies that show that lower class sizes stems he flight of teachers from schools.  In fact, when asked about any policy to lower class sizes, the two DOE officials simply did not respond.

Another committee member wanted to know how can the DOE expect academic improvement at Renewal schools when classes have 30 or more students and cannot attract veteran teachers to mentor the largely inexperienced teaching staff? The best line was if you child was sick, would you take him or her to a Renewal Hospital to be treated? The DOE response was silence.

The chairman of the Education Committee Danny Dromm, a former middle school teacher, correctly pointed out that lower class sizes and clear student discipline rules that are strictly enforced are needed to keep teachers from fleeing the NYC classroom. However, the DOE seems to ignore these proven strategies and their failure to listen and respond to teacher complaints is the primary factor of teacher dissatisfaction and the cause for the teacher retention problem.

For Mr Dromm, the most disturbing DOE response was about "Fair Student Funding" and how it hurts the schools.  He even suggested that the City Council may pass a resolution to eliminate the Fair Student Funding from school budgets.  Mr. Dromm stated that the Fair Student Funding incentives principals to hire inexpensive "newbie" teachers while trying to offload veterans from their budget. The DOE response, was that they see no problem with the school-based Fair Student Funding.

A more through analysis of the hearing can be found at the New York City Public School Parents blog.


Anonymous said...

You know your class is over crowded when the teacher takes attendance and calls out: "Hermanoskowitz"-
and 6 students raise their hand.

Anonymous said...

You know your class is over crowded when you have to teach your class from outside the window strapped to a body harness.

Anonymous said...

So why are they targeting experienced and older teachers?

Anonymous said...

The best thing we can do is to leave the system as soon as possible, or find a district where they really need teachers that want to teach and are allowed to teach. The disrespect, and the gotcha mentality together with the flyby observations are just getting ridiculous. Our Union is to blamed for having unqualified field supervisors conducting observations on ATRs who do not have regular classes. Setting up the most experienced teachers for failure it is just irresponsible, and a waste of resources.

Anonymous said...

I was present at the hearing and I would like to add the following. Councilman Rafael Salamanca of the Bronx asked about parking placards for teachers because of the terrible parking situations near his schools five days a week. I can attest to the terrible parking situations because I taught in the South Bronx for six months last year and many teachers were forced to pay for parking and the two lots one block from the school. Needless to say, they had a difficult time finding people and retaining people. The DOE's response was that it was not their problem but the Department of Transportation's problem and they could not address this issue. The Councilman and the DOE went back and forth but the DOE seemed unwilling to see this as a problem. So I do not see parking placards are coming back anytime soon.
The DOE's response to Councilwoman Chin's statement that schools could not recruit experienced teachers to the schools or retain experienced teachers on their budgets because of the Fair Funding Formula was that the DOE has not heard of this problem. That was very difficult to believe. The same was reiterated to Councilman Dromm's questioning.
Overall, I came away that the DOE was okay with the current situation. There did not seem to be much will you change it. The only glimmer of hope was when Councilman Dromm's said there may be a resolution in the city council to scrap the Fair Funding Formula and go back to teacher unit budgeting.