Saturday, April 29, 2017
When Mayor Bill de Blasio took over there was hope that the confrontational actions at the DOE would change to collaboration. However, once he selected Carmen Farina as Chancellor with her anti-veteran teacher attitude and her deep ties to the Bloomberg years as a Deputy Chancellor, most educators knew deep down that nothing will change and the "gotcha system" would continue. Under the new Chancellor, she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE and instead of reducing the amount of lawyers at the Office of Legal Services and the data mining Accountability Managers, they actually increased. In fact under Mayor Bill de Blasio there has been a doubling of high-salaried bureaucrats at the DOE while school budgets are tight and essentially remained flat.
When it came to teacher discipline, the change in the Mayor's Office hardly affected the punitive process from the Bloomberg years. Every year there are over 350 educators who are served with 3020-a termination charges. In fact the number of educators served with 3020-a termination charges under the de Blasio/Farina tenure are as follows:
Interestingly during the Bloomberg years, from 2002 to 2013, the average was 271 educators charged under 3020-a and that includes the 2006-7 years when it averaged 636. However, just like during the Bloomberg administration years, not all educators went through their 3020-a hearings. Quite a few, the majority in fact, took settlements ranging from a fine and exile into the ATR pool to irrevocable resignation or retirement. Anecdotal evidence suggests that three out of every four settlements result in the educator irrevocably resigning or forced into retirement.
In 2016, independent State arbitrators issued 93 decisions or approximately 24% of all educators served with 3020-a charges. Of the 93 cases the arbitrators ruled on, 23 resulted in the educator's termination (25%) and 9 were found innocent (9%). It should be noted that educators found innocent was only 2.5% of all charged educators. The remainder resulted in either fines or suspensions (67%).
If we take the last year of data, 2016, there was 381 educators charged under 3020-a but only 93 resulted in an arbitrator ruling. Meaning that 288 educators took settlements and since 75% of these settlements resulted in the educator irrevocably resigning or retiring. The DOE was able to remove 239 educators from the DOE payroll or 63% of the 381 educators served with their 3020-a charges. This is slightly higher than the 55% figure in the last two years of the Bloomberg administration.
A major reason for the higher numbers is that many veteran teachers took the settlement to irrevocably retire rather than fight the 3020-a charges was the language in the 2014 UFT contract that allows the City to eliminate the educator's retro and lump sum payment if the arbitrator recommends termination. Therefore, to protect their up to $50,000 payments owed, they elected to take the settlement rather than risk losing the money.
When you combine the ingredients of the anti-veteran Chancellor with the 2014 UFT contract and add a pinch of the "gotcha system", you have a recipe for continued attacks on veteran teachers as the 3020-a numbers readily show.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
In today's Daily News there is an article that falsely claims that two teachers, jailed were still getting paid their full salaries by the City. The Daily News is incorrect, during the time the two teachers are in jail they will not be paid. They are suspended without pay They cannot use their accumulated CAR and they are denied health benefits as well. Leave it to the Daily News and their crack reporters to get it wrong yet again.
First, lets take the case of Columbia Secondary School teacher, Dean Bethea, who was convicted of trying to kiss a 16 year old girl and provided alcohol to her. He received a four month jail sentence and was charged by the DOE with sexual misconduct. That means that the DOE had probably took Mr. Bethea into a special hearing under the "sexual misconduct" charge to suspend him without pay or benefits for the duration of his time with the DOE until the 3020-a hearing arbitrator terminates his employment. Its highly unlikely that Mr. Betha will get another paycheck from the DOE. except for his CAR payment termination pay.
As for Osman Couey from PS 194, he has also been suspended without pay or benefits during his 30 days in jail. However, once he is released and since he was convicted only of a misdemeanor, he will be reinstated to the payroll while waiting for his 3020-a hearing to be completed. It is quite likely that he could receive a sentence ranging from termination to a fine. However, if its termination, he will be off payroll within six months. Any lesser penalty will place him into the ATR pool.
In both cases, the two teachers are not being paid while in jail but then again for the Daily News its not about the truth its about their ideological aims to demonize the public school system and the teachers in it. At the Daily News its "never let the truth stand in the way of a good story".
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
In New York State, thanks to ex-President Barack Obama and his Bill Gates inspired Race to the top program, we have a teacher evaluation system that counts all students as part of the teacher's effectiveness as an instructor. Even students that aren't theirs! To account for all different types of students, the State developed a complex mathematical formula that turned out to be "junk Science" and was exposed as a farce by the courts. That brings me to how student growth of the most disadvantaged students affect the teacher evaluation system and why its not fair.
While New York City has been on the receiving end of the great economic recovery since the depths of the recession ending in early 2012. One area that has not recovered and has actually became significantly worse is the number of homeless students in the public school system. According to the Independent Budget Office (IBO), there has been a 44% increase in homeless students in the Bronx since 2012 and a 15% increase citywide since last year. In fact, over 40% of all homeless students attend Bronx schools. A more detailed IBO study on the homeless student can be found here.
Interestingly, the dramatic rise in homeless students attending Bronx schools coincided with the closing of the many large comprehensive high schools with their abundant resources to help these academically needy children in the Borough and the opening of the many Bloomberg small schools who lacked many of the resources for these vulnerable students.
Citywide there are 155 schools that have a homeless population of greater than 10%, compared to only 61 in 2012. That is an increase of 254%! The latest homeless student numbers show that there are 32,803 in the 2015-16 school year. The Bronx had the most homeless students with 13,729. followed by Brooklyn, with 9,223. Th lowest was Staten Island with only 971 kids.
Studies have shown the homeless students are the most vulnerable population and the most difficult to educate, due to their mobility and lack of security outside of the schools. Is it any wonder that schools resort to academic fraud to jack up graduation rates and encourage social promotion. I bet the 155 schools are major beneficiaries of lax DOE oversight that allows students to move ahead despite their academic deficiencies. Remember, homeless students are more likely to:
- Be absent from school more often.
- Score poorly on standardized tests.
- Drop out of school.
- More likely to repeat a grade.
- Have developmental difficulties.
For the 155 schools that have an over 10% homeless student population, is it really fair for these teachers to be evaluated on the most difficult to educate, due to their homelessness and lack of security outside the school? The answer is no!
Sunday, April 23, 2017
I have written about the massive academic fraud that many schools practice to artificially raise the graduation tate, especially the diploma mill high schools, that push out otherwise, failing students, unprepared into the adult world of high education or business. I wrote about the "credit recovery" courses that are simply a packet or an online course that allows students to take the test as many time as necessary until they pass. I also wrote about how some high schools gave double credits for the same course like what happened in Flushing High School or how about the infamoius William Cullen Bryant High School? However, the worst abuses, practiced by most every high school in the City is called "scholarship".
What is scholarship you ask? Scholarship is when the Assistant Principal or Principal calls the teacher in for a meeting and goes over the teacher's grading book and ask why student A, B, C, and D are failing? In the school I was in last year, the Assistant Principal had teachers follow the procedures listed below:
- How many times did you call the parent, is it documented?
- Do you keep an online grading book so parents are kept up to date?
- What supports did you provide the student with?
- What do you do when a student is absent?
- Do you supply make-up work or extra credit?
Many high schools require a 80% passing percentage,including no-shows, and if the teacher is untenured, anything less will probably result in their discontinuance. For tenured teachers, especially veteran teachers who are targeted due to salary and seniority, look for the administration to give the teacher either a "developing" or "ineffective" rating. The result is that teachers will pass the failing student rather than put their job in danger. To the school administration good scholarship percentage is more important than actual student learning and teachers know this. In fact, students are not held accountable for their academic achievement only the teachers.
Is scholarship academic fraud? Well if you are passing students simply to please the school administration, knowing full well that these students will fail at the next level then yes, its academic fraud.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Over the last three plus years since Mayor Bill de Blasio took over as Mayor, our union leadership has played nice with the progressive Mayor. When he selected the anti-veteran educator, the disappointing Carmen Farina as Chancellor, our union President Michael (don't call me Mikey) Mulgrew said there was a new tone at Tweed. Of course, it was the same old song at the schools with frozen budgets, a "gotcha system" and the punitive Danielson Rubric in place. Worse, was the continuation of the Bloomberg policy of protecting abusive principals while going after teachers.
Remember Carmen Farina was Deputy Chancellor for Joel Klein and her claim to fame was to remove most of her veteran teachers when she was a Principal at PS 6 in Manhattan. The new Chancellor showed her true colors by retaining 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers in place rather than clean house. Moreover, when she outmaneuvered our hapless UFT leadership in the 2014 contract, she targeted veteran ATRs for termination and veteran teachers in the teacher evaluation system. She even told new teachers to stay away from those complaining veteran teachers in the teacher's room.This is the person that our UFT President was having a love affair with.
One thing that didn't change with the new Mayor and Chancellor was the union leadership's failure to go after the many terrible principals running the schools. Be it Monika Garg (trust factor 0%) of CPE1, Namita Dwarka of William Cullen Bryant High School (trust factor of 28%), or Eujin Iael Kim (trust factor 39%) of PS 169. Instead of organizing protests against these terrible principals, our union leadership lamely claims that they don't go after fellow union members. Of course, it didn't stop them from joining demonstrations against the police, also fellow union members. Instead, the union leadership claim they quietly put pressure on the DOE to replace and remove these principals. However, few members believe them and the only principals that have been removed are those subject to media scrutiny and student protests like that at Townsend Harris High School.
At least under Randi Weingarten, you had the Principals In Need Of Improvement (PINI) articles in the New York Teacher newspaper and occasional protests at schools with especially terrible school leaders. However, under Michael Mulgrew there are no union directed or supported protests or articles about the many principals that shouldn't be running their school. In fact, the actions of our union leadership suggests that they care little about the members who are subject to these principals actions. How else can one explain their inaction in the CPE1 saga or the Townsend Harris situation?
The lack of union action against these vindictive principals puts the staff, especially veteran teachers, in peril. Yet our uncaring union leadership allows these principals to run roughshod over their staff with nary a peep from the union. Do I believe our union leadership is quietly working behind the scene to get the DOE to remove these terrible principals? Well, if you believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth fairy then you would believe the union leadership is working on doing just that. However, if you don't believe in fairy tales then the truth is our union leadership is not doing their job in advocating for the members by not confronting the DOE and the vindictive principals that are abusing their positions at the various schools they lead.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Chancellor Carmen Farina Announces The Virtual Elimination Of Suspensions For Grades K-2 While Educators Are In Danger Of Arrest And Termination.
Starting yesterday, and over the vocal objections of school safety officers, the teachers, and Principal unions, disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina, announced the virtual elimination of suspensions for students in grades K to 2 and further limiting suspensions for the rest of the student body That's right, all those wonderful little darlings that repeatedly disrupt the classroom, assault other children, and disrespect authority, will be getting a free pass to continue their negative behaviors without any real consequences. Instead the little darlings will get a "warning card", restorative justice, or simple mediation. Good luck to that.
Oh yes, there are consequences for a child's negative behavior, its just not to the child but to the educators that dare physically confront these out of control children. Just in the last month we had a teacher receive a 30 day jail term for attempting to keep a student who left his classroom without permission and tried to keep him from reentering the classroom who then proceeded to kick the door and scream in the hallways. Now we have a Principal who defended a teacher who was attacked and slapped by a child and was arrested for his discipline.
How many educators have been removed from the New York City classroom and their schools for alleged corporal punishment or verbal abuse over the last year or so? Two hundred? Three hundred? More? How many of these reassignments of educators are due to the negative actions of the child? I don't mean simple insubordination (not doing what the teacher requested). I'm talking about violent incidents like assault, throwing chairs, menacing, and inappropriate touching of a sexual nature. Yet, we treat all these students like their porcelain dolls marked fragile when some of these children are really on the path of being a menace to society. Instead, of isolating the "worst of the worst" in small self-contained classes and give them and their family the professional help they need to become a better person, we dump these children on the educator to correct the problem in large class sizes, without providing them the tools necessary to help the child. The result is when the educator tries to discipline the child for his or her negative behavior it can easily escalate to a physical confutation with negative consequences for the educator.
While I am not defending an educator who physically hurts or threatens with force a misbehaving student and they should be terminated if the child suffered a serious injury that resulted from the physical altercation. Most educators are simply trying to defuse the explosive situation by restraining the child and holding them till the child calms down. Unfortunately, sometimes the educator's best of intentions backfires and we have a teacher given a 30 day jail sentence and a Principal arrested.
My best advice? Be careful, be very careful when confronting a misbehaving student since the only suspension resulting in the interaction is your livelihood as an educator in the New York City Public School system.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
One of the very few benefits that NYSUT offered that was considered a good deal was the Catastrophe Major Medical Plan. This plan is an affordable supplemental health insurance policy that pays benefits for nursing home care, rehabilitation, at home care, and other medical expenses not covered by the basic health care, including Medicare. The plan was closed in 2011 and many UFT members missed out on a plan that, had they knew about it , would have joined. The good news is that NYSUT has decided to reopen the CMM plan. You can read the information Here
The actual application for the NYSUT CMM is now available on the NYSUT member benefits page but you can download the 3-page application with instructions Here.
The deductible ranges from zero for preventive benefits to $5,000 per family and $2,500 for an individual. The annual premium is age dependent and ranges from a low of $82.90 for members under 40 years of age and to a high of $654.77 .for members over 95 years old. At 65 years of age the premium will be $453.93 or $18.91 per paycheck. Remember, the time limit for filling out the application is only for 45 days, starting on May 1, 2017 and closing as of June 15, 2017. There is no guarantee that this offer will be available in the future.
The bottom line, while this is not a replacement for the prohibitively expensive long term care plans that many insurance companies are pitching. It certainly is a much needed supplemental health insurance plan that's missing in our health benefits universe and is the fifth leg to our retirement.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Over the last couple of months a 25 year veteran teacher was accused of corporal punishment and ended up being arrested and getting a 30-day jail sentence for shoving a 7-year old child that didn't result in any physical injuries to the child and wasn't reported for a month. While the teacher has had letters of reprimand for previous corporal punishment and verbal abuse, none rose to the level of a 3020-a termination hearing, least not being arrested for. In 2013, the teacher was accessed previously of a serious corporal punishment incident. However, the charge was found to be unsubstantiated and dismissed. All the rest were minor and simply resulted in a letter of reprimand at worst.
The real story begins with the elementary school itself PS 194, Countee Cullen in Harlem between 2008 and 2012 there were 200 reported violent incidents and six sex offenses and this is an elementary school! Moreover, the Principal during that time had a habit of not reporting incidents and coming in late you can read it Here. You can also see the YouTube video Here.
Things have not improved under the new Principal as the high poverty and 95% Black and Hispanic student body still struggles academically and teachers gave the Principal an 18% trust factor, one of the lowest in the City . Moreover, only 24% think the Principal clearly communicates her vision. Finally, the Math and English scores remain in single digits of 9% and 7% respectively, again, one of the lowest in the City as the school has been among the list of violent schools. You can see the school's snapshot Here. This is what the teacher said of his school
“PS 194 has been a constant member of the most dangerous schools — it is a school where we have a lot of students with real problems that are not addressed,“ Couey had said.
In fact, the other teachers agree with him, according to the school's snapshot only 7% of the teachers feel the students are safe in the school while the City average is 94%!
When it comes to the child in question, you can read a slightly more informative take by the New York Post. Obviously, the child has serious behavioral issues that were not adequately addressed by the school administration. Like how does a school allow a 7-year old child to run the hallways unattended during class time? Where did he go without permission and why wasn't he disciplined by an administrator? Why didn't the teacher have a co-teacher in a classroom with Special Education students as required by law? If the child was diagnosed with ADHD and autism, as the Daily News article stated, what services, if any, did the school supply to the child?
The teacher spent his entire 25-year career at the academically struggling and dangerous school and stayed when other teachers left for better schools and more respect and he was rewarded for his loyalty to the school with not only an arrest and a 30 day jail sentence but a 3020-a charge to terminate his employment. Just because he tried to discipline a misbehaving student because nobody else wanted to bother with the child.
Is he a bad teacher? Maybe to some people who don't understand what's its like to teach in such a hostile and chaotic environment without administrative support and where a single slip up can cost a teacher their job. You can make your own decision on that. However, is PS 194 a bad school? No question about it. Absolutely it is.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Since Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City in 2014. one of his priorities was to reduce the student suspension rate. He and the Chancellor, Carmen Farina, implemented new student discipline policies that required that principals get DOE Central approval before suspending students. Another layer of bureaucratic bloat, just what an already bloated organization needs. As spring break ends, the de Blasio/Farina administration will be further weakling the student discipline code as student insubordination and elementary school suspensions will virtually be eliminated.
A study done by Chalkbeat found that 22% of all Principal recommended suspensions were rejected by DOE Central under the new student discipline policy last year. The numbers are probably higher since many principals who may have wanted to suspend students for repeated insubordination and school disruptions didn't bother to fill out the paperwork, knowing that DOE Central would not agree to the suspension. Instead, many of these students were sent right back to the classroom to interfere with instruction
The Bill de Blasio administration's lax student discipline policy that has reduced suspensions by 36% has also seen a corresponding rise in student misbehavior. The alternatives to suspension has been restorative justice, warning cards, and mediation. Few teachers have been trained in alternative techniques, since it costs time and money for the training. The result is that many schools suffer from chaos as misbehaving students are pushed back into the classroom to distract, disrupt, and destroy instruction.
Add the ever weakening student discipline policy with the ill-advised cellphone policy especially in high poverty urban schools,and is it any wonder that schools must resort to academic fraud to jack up their graduation rate while pushing out academically unprepared students into high education or the job market?
I'm glad I am near the end of my career and feel really sorry for the "newbies" entering the system as they will be blamed for the student's lack of academic achievement when its our progressive Mayor and his disappointing Chancellor that is the real blame for the school's failure to provide a real educational experience.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
John Bowne High School is a high school thatis located in a leafy Middle-class neighborhood in Flushing and has a diverse student body and theoretically should be an attractive high school for students. However, there has been a disturbing spike in violent incidents and weapon confiscations at the troubled school.over the last three years. Just last week, a student was knifed by two other students at the school, a police officer was punched by another student,and the Principal Howard Kwait has cost the DOE over $500,000 in settling two lawsuits by female assistant Principals and a female student who was falsely arrested. Moreover, he was fined by the City's Conflict of Interest Board by accepting a trip by a female subordinate overseas. Finally, Mr. Kwait has been accused of changing grades, and retaliating against whistle-blowers which resulted in another lawsuit by a male Assistant Principal this year. You can read all the unsavory details Here, Here, Here, and Here.
While the school has some great programs in Agricultural and Veterinary Science, it struggles when it comes to their "college and career readiness" scores which is below the citywide average. You can see the school's snapshot.
The student population of the school is half Hispanic, and one quarter Black and the other quarter Asian, mostly South Asian. Many of the neighborhood's middle-class students that would normally go to John Bowne High School if high school zoning was still in force, end up in the nearby better schools of Francis Lewis, Thomas Edison, and Forest Hills. Instead many of the student body come from Southern Queens and unfortunately, brings with them the culture of violence and disrespect for authority. With Martin Van Buren a Renewal School and the Jamaica campus schools deteriorating and not attracting students from their neighborhoods, John Bowne continues to get many of these lower academic achieving students and hence, a rise in violent incidents and weapon possession.
Are the high schools becoming safer? Yeah right and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
In the Daily News today we have another case of Eva Moscowitz's Success Academy Charter School giving a 7 year old boy a 45 day suspension and when it was reduced by a DOE hearing officer, he was again suspended two days later for acting up in class. A lawyer for the family said the following.
Brooklyn Legal Services attorney Nancy Bedard, who represents the boy, said the case illustrates how the city’s largest charter chain wants to purge difficult kids from its system — a claim Success has long denied.
Remember, it was another Brooklyn Success Academy Charter School who had a "got to go" list of unwanted students. In Fact, a report found that the Charter Schools had a policy of widespread dumping of struggling and misbehaving students. The Gothamist printed an excerpt of the report Here.
Last year a federal investigation was launched against Success Academy for discrimination against disabled children and co-signed by City Council education committee chairman Daniel Dromm and supported by Public Advocate, Letitia James. The investigation is ongoing.
Juan Gonzalez has written many articles on how Eva Moscowitz's Success Academy Charter Schools suspemd and push out students that don't fit the school's academic and or behavioral standards. Here, Here, and Here.
The bottom line is that if a school is allowed to suspend and remove their weakest students then the test score results cannot be compared to other schools and are invalid since it only represents the top half of so of the cohort of the school..
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
The reasons that teaching in the New York City Public School System has become an unappealing job can be attributed to many factors. The Obama Administration's policies linking teacher performance with student growth (junk Science) in his Race To The Top policy. Education reform organizations that demanded that teachers be held totally accountable for student outcomes. Politicians, like Governor Andrew Cuomo who made sure that the teacher evaluations metric was based on 50% of a students growth score (junk Science). Add that to the New York City and UFT approved punitive Charlotte Dainelson rubric as a weapon to go after teachers and the "gotcha" system of micromanagement imposed by DOE policy and you have a school system that suffers from low morale, high teacher turnover, and ideology over student academic achievement.
Despite all the above issues, a good Principal can run interference for their staff and make the classroom environment less hostile and the school culture more collaborative. However, in the New York City Schools we have far too many Leadership Academy Principals, with limited classroom experience, who are trained to be the CEO and not instructional leader of their school. The result, is a school system that has an "us against them" mentality. Worse, many principals are pushing out veteran teachers and hiring "newbies", despite their steep learning curve that hurts student academic achievement which shows up in the dismal college and career readiness rates..
A case in point is the CPE1 saga where the Principal, Monika Garp, has a "0%" trust factor from staff and parents have demanded her removal, yet she stays in charge. Or how about Namita Dwarka of William Cullen Bryant High School, who has the lowest trust factor in Queens high schools and have seen a teacher turnover of 88% since she became Principal in 2012. Who can forget Marcella Sills of PS 106 who somehow lasted eight years as Principal as the school suffered from unusually high teacher turnover, lack of resources, and a Principal that showed up late most every day. The school was nicknamed the "school of no" because it had no gym or art classes, no updated books. no nurse and no librarian for the library. Yet when the school received a grade it was an "A" by the Bloomberg administration. Think politics played a role in the grade? Of course it did.
A good school system has a collaborative environment, small class sizes, and a school administration that staff respects and not fear. Unfortunately, the New York City School System has failed to realize this and as a result the schools suffer from high teacher turnover, large class sizes, and a school administration that is not trusted by the school staff. Is it any wonder that the majority of students are not ready for college and the adult world?
Sunday, April 09, 2017
Two years ago the DOE, without the approval of the school staff, the community, or the parents of Central Park East 1 elementary school, installed a new Principal in the legendary progressive school. The new Principal is named Monika Garg, who came from the embattled Pan American International High School as an Assistant Principal under the infamous Minerva Zanca who was indited for racial discrimination for her actions during Ms. Garp's time at the school. How in the world could the DOE allow a person who was tainted with the racial discrimination issue at her previous school, get promoted to be Principal herself is mind boggling. Yet, the unaccountable DOE did make her Principal through the flawed C-30 process, despite all the negatives associated with her, lack of community, parent, and staff support, ran a failing school,and of course the alleged racial discrimination issue. Time and again, the DOE puts people in charge of schools with a checkered past. Just look at Townsend Harris and Forest Hill High Schools?
Since being appointed Principal, Monika Garp has targeted the veteran teachers of the school and has started investigations against any teacher that speaks out against her. Ms. Garp's trust and communication factors, according to the school's latest snapshot is "0%"! The lowest in the City. Yet the DOE continues to keep her in charge, go figure.
This week the parents occupied the school overnight and demanded that the Principal step down. Moreover, last June, parents and their students staged a walkout and demanded that Ms. Garp be removed as she was destroying the progressive school culture.
According to Ed Notes Online, who has been writing about the CPE1 saga. Ms. Garp has been targeting the veteran teachers of the school and has even sent the Chapter Leader into a 3020-a hearing. You can read it Here and Here. Finally, see the timeline from the beginning of Ms. Garp's selection till November of 2016, just before the Chapter Leader was removed in December and is a must read.
Its time for Chancellor Carmen Farina and her appointed Superintendent, Alexandra Esrella, to admit their terrible mistake in selecting Monika Garp to be Principal of a school that she knew nothing about and remove her for the sake of the students and the culture of the school.
Friday, April 07, 2017
You would think that a person in the top spot of education in New York State would be smart enough not to touch a "third rail" and electrocute herself. Well, New York State Education Department Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia did just that and she is now damaged her reputation and is in danger of losing her job because of it.
Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who still thinks "junk Science" should be used to evaluate teachers and students and is against the "opt out" movement, had commented on the controversy that an Oswego high school teacher inappropriately gave to his high schoolstudents that asked them to take sides on the Nazi's "final solution", the extermination of the Jews. The project and the controversy hit social media big time and here is what our Commissioner first said, when asked to comment on the highly explosive issue:
“I think it’s certainly a question where you want students to think on both sides and analyze … which position a person is taking. That idea of being able to identify the perspective an article has or a writer has is a very important skill.”
That's right, in an assignment that crossed a line that should never have been crossed, the Commissioner, instead of condemning the assignment, thought it was an appropriate "critical thinking" skill for high schoolers to analyze. Unbelievable!
Well, as you can imagine, the shit hit the fan and many Jewish and parent organizations throughout the State complained about the assignment and her supportive response to the assignment. In fact one Parent Teacher Association, Hastings on the Hudson, has asked that Ms. Elia to either resign or be removed as Commissioner.
The Commissioner, under intense political pressure and continuous media inquires, retracted her original comment and said the following:
“Since first learning of the assignment, I’ve done my homework to determine the facts in this situation. I spoke with district officials about this serious matter. We agree the assignment should not have been given. The teacher apologized and the assignment will not be used in the future.”
The Commissioner's response was entirely inadequate and instead of apologizing for her insensitive and wrongheaded comment supporting the assignment, she simply said on further review, the assignment should not have been given. Maybe she needs to take a course on the Holocaust as a condition for continuing as Commissioner of the New York State Education Department. You can read the entire story Here.
Thursday, April 06, 2017
It appears that the ATR rotation has ended for the most part this school year. The majority of the ATRs were left in their school when the last rotation occurred. The only ATRs moved were ATRs that were better suited for certain schools. Like music teachers being sent to a performing arts school or a Math teacher sent to schools where the Math scores are poor and the ATR can provide extra support like tutoring and Regents prep.
Let's go over the facts and the rumors about the ATR situation as presently known.
Fact, it certainly looks like the ATR rotation is history this school year and I have been told by a DOE official that all ATRs will be "forced placed" next September. The details are currently being worked out with the UFT in their secret meetings on the issue that will result in a new ATR agreement for the next school year.
Fact, the field supervisor will still be the rating officer this school year, unless you are provisionally or permently appointed. While the school administration can observe you and even rate you, most will not bother to add to their paperwork.
Fact, Amy Arundell told the Executive Board that 200 ATRs obtained permanent positions due to the latest incentive. She also said that leaves 800 ATRs without a classroom. What was left unsaid by Amy was that between 400 and 500 ATRs have previously been provisionally appointed and will be dumped back into the ATR pool this summer. Therefore the 800 is really 1,300.
Fact, the DOE maintains two ATR lists. The first for ATRs who were excessed due to school or course closing and the other because of discipline. Only the ATRs on the excessed list are being offered to principals to be hired. The few ATRs on the discipline list that were hired occurred because there are no ATRs available in the subject area from the excessed list of that District or Borough.
Fact, the DOE and UFT keep the ATRs in the dark about changes in the ATR situation and don't seek out ATR input on issues concerning the ATRs. Once the UFT had an ATR group but they have not met in more than two years and there is no plan to bring it back together.
Rumor, the ATR rotation and field supervisors will no longer exist in the 2017-18 school year.
Rumor, all ATRs will be subject to Danielson and the teacher evaluation system. No more "S" or "U" ratings.
Rumor, the DOE and City will offer the ATR an incentive to retire or resign, similar to the 2014 incentive.
Rumor, UFT President Michael Mulgrew told a meeting of retirees in Boca Raton, Florida that he will be signing off on a deal to eliminate the ATR pool. I cannot independently verify this.
Whether its a fact or rumor, the bottom line is the DOE and UFT will continue to keep the ATRs in the dark and without their input, as significant changes are expected in the ATR pool for the next school year.
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
If you read the newspapers, the De Blasio administration and Chancellor, Carmen Farina, will crow about how suspensions are decreasing and criminal arrests are way down from the Bloomberg years. What both the Mayor and Chancellor fail to explain is the reductions are based upon policy changes and lax discipline procedures, not because the schools are a safer place for children. Last school year the head of the school safety agents pointed out how weapons confiscated at school never seem to show up in the statistics. Instead, the schools have been told to use restorative justice techniques or issue warning cards instead of suspensions or arrests. In fact, the DOE has told principals not to include the "warning cards" and marijuana offenses in the OORS discipline report. Obviously, to hide the truth about crime and drugs in the schools.
The Mayor and Chancellor simply made it more difficult for principals to suspend misbehaving and dangerous students and discouraged arrests. This does not make schools any safer and probably makes them less safe as these students remain in the school to disrupt, threaten, and intimidate other students and staff. See Flushing High School. Where the threatened teacher received a one month suspension and loss of her position at the school.
Just take a look at what has happen the last week. First, at Richmond Hill High School, a Renewal School, there was a gang fight. See the YouTube video. The school is one of the schools cited by the New York Post as having the most student crimes. is it any wonder that the head of the School Safety Agents told PIX11 that the Mayor is covering up crime and violence at the schools because he wants to show progress in an election year.
Yesterday, a student was knifed at John Browne High School. Yes the same High School that has been in the news for the Principal Howard Kwait who has had another lawsuit filed against him by his Assistant Principal. You can read more about Principal Howard Kwait Here. Yet Mr. Kwait still is the Principal, go figure.
The Mayor and the Chancellor may continue to manipulate the student crime and violence statistics but the truth is that the school are not becoming safer just because they want it to be.
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Last month the DOE published a list of student vacancies for all the City high schools in the second round. This year's numbers are similar to those of the last two years (2016 and 2015). That means that these schools where not listed on the 12 high schools that the eighth grade students want to attend. Not surprisingly the schools with the most vacancies in the second round were high schools that are Renewal Schools, the old Turnaround Schools, and the many Bloomberg small schools in the Southeast Queens Campuses.
The schools with the most vacancies in the second round this year are listed below:
Long Island City..................................480
Humanities & Arts...............................185
Martin Van Buren.................................175
William Cullen Bryant..........................120
Math, Science & Technology................110
Fredrick Douglas VI.............................110
George Washington Carver...................95
Campus Magnet Health Professions......90
Unfortunately not one of the schools listed above has a favorable academic metric between their graduation rate and the "college and career readiness rate". You can find the metrics Here. .
Some of the number of vacancies can be misleading as the small schools (425 student body) only recruit 125-150 students yearly while the large comprehensive schools like Long Island City (2,100 student body) must recruit up to 700 students annually. Still, good schools with favorable academic metrics, like Francis Lewis and Forest Hills, have few, if any, vacancies while schools with bad administration, an unruly student body, and poor academic achievement most rely on picking up the leftovers and over-the-counter students.
If you notice, all the Queens Renewal Schools, August Martin, Flushing, John Adams, Martin Van Buren, and Richmond Hill have multiple vacancies and unlike the other schools, cannot fill them with over-the-counter students, or so Chancellor Carmen Farina claimed. The problem then becomes how do these schools fill the many vacancies without this cohort? The answer is they can't and these Renewal Schools will continue to lose students and staff going forward.
Many of the other schools with multiple vacancies are clustered in Southeast Queens, specifically the Bloomberg small schools of the Beach Channel, Far Rockaway, Campus Magnet, and Springfield Gardens campuses. Add the old Turnaround Schools of Grover Cleveland, Long Island City, Newtown, and William Cullen Bryant and these three groups, the Renewal Schools, Turnaround Schools, and the Southeast Queens campus Bloomberg small schools and these are the schools parents and students avoid at all costs.
Interestingly. the Campus Magnet schools had a combined shortfall of 445 students which strongly suggests that the entire campus is failing to get students to go to the four schools. I guess, in this case the magnet repeals rather than attract students.
To parents whose child was not selected by a school in the first round, your chances of getting into an academically proficient school is slim and none since none of the above schools where vacancies exist are schools worthy of getting the academically proficient student.
Monday, April 03, 2017
It appears that there were some slight reductions Statewide when it came to the "opt out" rates for the English Language Arts (ELA) high-stake test this year. However, the same cannot be said for the epicenter of the "opt out" movement, Long Island. The latest data shows that 50.7% of the students decided to "opt out" of the test, similar to last year's percentage of 51.6% and well above the 42.6% in 2015.
The highest numbers came from the solidly middle class communities of Western and Southern Suffolk County and Eastern Nassau county. By contrast, the lowest "opt out" numbers came from the lower income and primarily minority communities, mirroring last year's distribution. Below is a list of the highest and lowest "opt out" numbers by school districts.
All the above school districts are solidly middle class and predominantly White by race. By contrast the lowest "opt out" rate,s listed below, are all lower income school districts and predominately minority.
Note that Wyandanch and Uniondale, two low "opt out" school districts did not report their "opt out" numbers yet and were not included on the list..
Despite minor changes to the high-stakes testing, the statewide "opt out" rates are still high and remained unchanged on Long Island.
Sunday, April 02, 2017
Once again another disgusting case of academic fraud has shown up at a Renewal School. This time its Flushing high school where students who passed the Algebra class because of the Principal's directive that 75% must pass, including no shows, or the teacher will be given an "ineffective" rating. However, most failed the Algebra Regents which is necessary to graduate high school. Since the Algebra Regents is the easiest to pass of all the Math Regents, instead of requiring the students to take the Algebra class over or arrange tutoring for the next Regents this is what the Principal, Tyee Chin, did instead.
Mr. Chin and his assistant Principal in Math arranged for the students to take the Algebra class over again but coded it as a Geometry class so to give the students a phony Geometry credit rather than give them a no-credit Algebra course. This was academic fraud as it was a blatant attempt to raise the graduation rate and to show academic improvement when there was no merit.
Five teachers wrote to the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) about the academic fraud who inexplicably sent it to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) where it lies buried as the Principal is still running the school.
Principal Chin's trust factor is only 46%, that means the majority of teachers find him untrustworthy and when you consider he tried to get staff to rate him and the school favorably and was disciplined for the intent to spike the school survey, you can guess his untrustworthiness is probably even higher. At the end of last school year Principal Chin send the Flushing staff a "Hunger Games" letter that in part, said the following:
— “Don’t trust anyone,” he says he was advised when he began — and said that after a year, “there are still those who refuse to put down the war cry for a new principal.”
Furthermore, he took a threatening student's side and instead reassigned a teacher who was threatened.
Mr. Chin, is another failed Principal and how these "bad pennies" continue to show up to run schools is beyond me. He failed to turnaround his Harlem School and left after three years. Now Mr. Chin was allegedly seen applying for the Townsend Harris position, talking about going from bad to worse at the school if Mr. Chin is the new Principal?
Unfortunately, this is not the first allegation of academic fraud at Flushing High School. In Mr. Chin's first year as Principal the school was accused of graduating 150 students using a quickie online course program. How can the Mayor and Chancellor close their collective eyes and allow these bad principals to commit academic fraud and remain in charge of schools is just unbelievable to me.
Saturday, April 01, 2017
It has come to the attention of this blog that there will be major changes at both the DOE and the UFT today.
First, Chancellor Carmen Farina has retired for good, effective today. In her farewell speech today she will admit that she was a vast disappointment to educators and failed to clean house needed to make the necessary corrections to improve the school system. She apologized to students, staff, and parents for her incompetence. The Mayor, wasting no time, appointed Education Committee chairman Danny Dromm as the new Chancellor. Mr. Dromm, once a middle school teacher, has already started to clean house at Tweed. He already sent a letter to all Superintendents asking for their immediate resignation. Moreover, Mr. Dromm, has stated that the Bloomberg policymakers retained by Ms, Farina will be fired by the end of the school year. Finally, the new Chancellor has already outlined major changes in running the New York City Public Schools. They are as follows:
- Eliminate school based fair student funding and replace it by reverting school salaries back to the unit system., funded by DOE Central.
- No hiring of teachers outside the District until all excessed teachers are placed. ATRs will be given a list of up to 5 vacancies in the District to choose from and once all ATRs are placed, in their content specialty, then schools can hire outside the District. No hidden vacancies will be tolerated and schools will be penalized for hiding vacancies.
- No uncertified teachers will be allowed to instruct students in the core subjects of English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
- All principals will be subject to a rigorous review of their ability to lead their school. Principals found to be incompetent, vindictive, or fails to collaborate with parents and/or staff will be removed. New principals must meet with the approval of parents and school staff before he or she is appointed as the new Principal.
- Reduce by 50% or more the Bureaucratic bloat at DOE Central and increase school budgets to 100% to fairly account for the school student population, not the current 89%. Further, there will be a major reduction in the grossly bloated legal and accountability departments.
- Allow for teacher autonomy back into the classroom and no micromanaging by administrators. True collaboration goes hand in hand with improved student academic achievement. The "gotcha" system is a thing of the past.
- Eliminate high school choice and severely limit the student screening process. In addition, reduce the amount of screened high schools that are available. Finally, bring back zoned high schools to improve student diversity and ability at the Renewal Schools in particular
- Prohibited cellphones in school and properly punish misbehaving students.
- Punish school administrators who practice academic fraud by suspension, termination, or monetary penalties.
The UFT leadership has also responded to the changes at the DOE with changes of their own starting with President Michael Mulgrew who promised the following:
- He will show up on time for all Executive Board meetings for now on.
- He will call on James Eterno at the Delegate Assembly and answer all emails sent to him.by the members.He will learn to use Facebook and Twitter and be accessible to the members and react to their concerns.
- The Leadership will allow all District Representatives to be elected by Chapter Leaders and all decisions that affects the members will be voted on by those affected. For example high school issues will only be voted on by high school teachers. No at large positions.
Both Chancellor Dromm and UFT President Mulgrew agreed to negotiate a fair contract with upfront raises and improved benefits like a ROTH TDA and give all UFT members their 8.25% interest back. Finally, the DOE and UFT will work closely in developing a fair and clear teacher evaluation system that does not rely on test scores and the punitive Charlotte Danielson rubric.