Friday, September 21, 2018

Will The District 15 Middle School Integration Plan Work? I Doubt It.

Count me as being skeptical that Brooklyn's District 15 middle school integration plan will help disadvantaged and English Language Learners become academically proficient as they mingle with middle class White students.  Why do I think it won't work?  Let me count the ways.

First, many of the disadvantaged and English Language Learners come from the low achieving elementary schools and are academically behind when entering middle school.  Only people blinded by their ideology cannot see that these students will never catch up at this late age and might actually get frustrated and fall even further behind academically.

Second, these same elementary schools have no "gifted and talented" programs that can be a source of minority recruitment to diversify the middle schools and that is a major factor in the low minority student body in the "screened" middle schools..

Third, it could spark an exodus of middle class White families to the suburbs as their middle schools receive an influx of academically low achieving minorities, thereby, defeating the purpose of integrating the middle schools.

Finally, if the White middle class students flee the middle schools, look for the best teachers to transfer from those schools since teacher turnover is high when it comes to middle school teachers. If the student population becomes more difficult to educate, then these teachers will leave for a better teaching environment.  Consequently, these middle schools will end up with an inexperienced and short-term teachers who lack classroom management skills, curriculum knowledge, and lack of teaching skills.

I see the District 15 integration scheme to be a failure and will backfire.

Read more at Chalkbeat and the New York Post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

4,000 "Newbies" Were Hired While 1,300 ATRs Are Left Without A Classroom.

Here we start a new school year, with a new Chancellor, a new outlook, and another layer of Bureaucracy (Regional Superintendents).  Yet much of the new school year sees the same issues.  Foremost among them are the ATRs.

The ATRs are educators that were excessed from closing schools, programs, schools that had staffs reapplying for their positions, or were accused of incompetence or misconduct but were found not guilty of termination at their 3020-a hearing.  Moreover, the ATRs are the step children of the DOE and if the DOE had its way, they would be terminated tomorrow.   However, because the UFT, in allowing the formation of the ATR pool back in 2005, also made sure there was no time limit and has stuck to their guns despite the DOE requesting one.

Despite the UFT ensuring that ATRs can keep their jobs, the UFT did not push the DOE to encourage principals to hire ATRs.  Instead, the DOE implemented a "Fair Student Funding" program that encouraged principals to hire "newbies" rather than veteran teachers.  The result, was that many schools have an inexperienced teaching staff with classroom management issues and lack of curriculum knowledge.

Will anything change in the new contract for the ATRs?  I hope so but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Board Of Regents Recommends No Penalties For School Districts With High "Opt Out" Rates.

In a major retreat by the State to school districts with high "opt out" rates, the Board of Regents has recommended to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) that there should be no financial penalties (Title 1 funds) to those school districts.  This is good news to Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Buffalo Region where "opt out" rates were the highest in the State and the nation.

Previously, NYSED gave school districts 4 years to meet the Federal 95% student participation requirement or face penalties.  Now it seems that the continued parent  protest to the high-stakes Common Core tests and Governor Andrew Cuomo's 180 degree turn on the issue has caused the Board of Regents to think twice about implementing the Federal requirements.  You can read Chalkbeat's take Here.

I suspect that the high "opt out" rates will continue in the New York City suburbs and with Common Core tests unsupported from the President on down, look for a more significant change that either eliminates or radically changes the State's high-stakes testing program.  Of course that assumes our Governor doesn't change his mind yet again.

You can see some of the "opt out" rates statewide for 2018. Here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why Is The TRS Balanced Fund A Bad Investment?

This year TRS shut down the low performing Bond fund and replaced it with a Balanced fund option for risk-adverse investors.  Before investing in the TRS Balanced Fund, please read why I don't believe it's a good investment option.

Most balanced funds usually have between 50% to 70% equities and 30% to 50% bonds and cash equivalents.  Historically, equities average about 7%, after fees and short-term bonds and cash equivalents  usually returns about 3%,  Therefore, the average historical return for a typical balanced fund is approximately 5%.

However, we are probably at the tail end of a bull run in equities and realistically, we should expect single digit returns of about 5%.  Moreover, with slowly rising interest rates, bond funds will struggle to have positive returns and just like this year, one can expect negative returns. The result is that the TRS Balanced Fund expected return will only average about 4% for the near term.

Compare that to the TRS Fixed Income Fund that gives us a guaranteed 7%  return with no fees!  Why would any risk-adverse member take a chance on the Balanced Fund when the TRS Fixed Income Fund gives a better return?

For members willing to take risks, there is always the TRS equity funds and this is a way to fight off the effects of inflation.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Why Do Female Teachers Get Little Or No Prision Time When Caught Having Sex With A Student?

The Daily News reported that Bronx middle school Social Studies teacher Dori Myers pleaded guilty to preforming oral sex on a 14 year old boy and received a 10 year sentence of probation and had to register as a level 1 sex offender but no prison time.  The Daily News article them claimed that she retained her teaching certificate.

The truth is she will most certainly lose her teaching license in New York State when the NYSED files an article 83 against Ms. Myers.  The City cannot take away a teacher's certificate only the State can.  However, what caught my attention was that she received no prison time.

Interestingly, many female teachers like Ms. Myers,  get no prison time, when caught having sexual relations with students while male teachers usually get between 2 to 10 years in prison.  Why is there such a difference?  Apparently, the legal system looks at men as sexual predators who planned and groomed the student, while female teacher are looked at as nurturers who became attached emotionally and crossed the line by becoming sexual.  Hence the disparate sentencing between male and female teachers which is unfair and discriminatory.

Here are the 50 most infamous female cases and the majority never received prison time.  By contrast, this article shows the disparate treatment when sentencing male and female teachers. Moreover, another article shows that same thing.  Finally, read this article.

The bottom line, male teachers are likely to get significant prison time while female teachers are most likely to receive little or no prison time when caught having sex with a student.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

If You Retire Before 2020 How Does TRS Take Out For The TDA In The Lump Sum Payments?

A commenter brought up  something that I could not answer.   The commenter asked a simple question.  "How does TRS account for TDA contributions if the UFT member retires before 2020?"  My answer is I don't know.

Theoretically, once an educator retires, he or she cannot contribute to the TDA.  However, in this situation,the lump sum payments are money owed to those who worked in the 2008-2009 school years, when the TDA contributions were part of an educator's payroll deduction.  Under the rules, you can contribute to a tax deferred plan as much money as you earned that calendar year, up to the maximum limit decided by the federal government. Isn't the lump sum payments earned income?

My guess is that TRS will punt on the question (football season has started) and refuse to allow newly retired educators to contribute to the TDA by using their lump sum funds.  I did try to get an answer from TRS but did not get a clear response to this question.  They informed me that retirees cannot contribute since they need earned income to contribute to the TDA.  When I brought up the fact that the lump sum payments were earned income the TRS said that they would look into it.  I'm not holding my breath waiting for an answer.  I hope I am wrong on this but I believe that somebody would have to bring a lawsuit to find out if the TRS is required to allow retirees to use their lump sum payments to contribute to their TDA.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Principal Manuel Urena Accused Of Anti-Semitism And Discrimination.

Three federal lawsuits have been filed by teachers who were targeted by Principal Manuel Urena of the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan.   He has been accused of targeting Jewish, Caucasian. and veteran teachers on trumped up disciplinary and performance charges and replaced them with young Hispanic teachers.

According to the teachers, including a former Chapter Leader, their complaints to both the DOE and UFT fell on deaf ears. You can read the New York Post article Here.  Principal Urena has a below average teacher trust factor that is 15% lower than the Citywide average.

Principal Urena has been identified as an administrator in need of improvement by the Solidarity caucus in their blog called "Don't Tread On Educators" blog.  You can find what the commenters say about Principal Urena  Here. Moreover, Ed Notes online blog had an article about Mr. Urena's assault on the chapter as well.

This appears to be another case of our union leadership not acting upon member complaints when targeted by a vindictive Principal.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Governor Andrew Cuomo Cannot Be Trusted.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to easily win reelection as Governor in November, as he sweeps through the Democratic primary this week and the general election.  To further his Presidential ambitions, he has swung further to the left (progressive) to get the progressive Democrats to endorse him.  Moreover, he has proclaimed that he is pro union by enacting executive actions that protect unions.  However, has he really changed?

Back in 2011 he imposed a three year wage freeze (the triple zeros) on State workers that affected all public service employee contracts throughout the State since localities can point to the State contract as a bases for giving inadequate or no raises..  If that wasn't bad enough he also imposed unpaid furlough days and a substantial increase in employee paid health benefits.  To put a cherry on top of the "employee givebacks" the Governor required all new employees to join the vastly inferior Tier VI pension plan. Least we forget that he also wanted to reduce retiree health benefits in the 2017 contract.

As for teachers, he pushed for a teacher evaluation system that would have 7% to 8% of all teachers rated "ineffective" due to "junk Science".  Further, 50% of the teacher's evaluation would be based upon student growth scores, even when the student wasn't in the teacher's roster and teachers only account for between 1% and 14% of a student's academic growth!  Finally, he demanded four years of  effective ratings before tenure can be given rather than three and that the burden of proof in a 3020-a hearing be on the "ineffective" teacher rather than the school district which usually means termination.

Least we forget how the Governor has refused to fully fund New York City schools  despite a court order to do so and is a major factor, besides DOE policies,  that schools have budgets that are 10% below their fair funding. In addition, the Governor is a strong supporter of education reform and charter schools.  In addition, he pushed and passed legislation to ensure that charter schools receive public money at the expense of public schools.  No wonder his largest contributor is the education reform organizations and the charter sector.

Remember, the only thing Governor Andrew Cuomo really cares about is winning.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Fix The Schools In Five Easy Steps

A few years ago their was an education blogger who has now retired.  He once wrote the actions needed to improve our public schools back in 2009.  In this down time, I believe we should revisit those five steps that "Accountable Talk" listed almost a decade ago.

Step One:  Stop the Gimmicks:
Step Two:  Enforce Discipline:

Step Three: Reduce Class Size:

Step Four: Attract the Best Teachers:

Step Five: Fire All Administrators:

Accountable Talk's blog stopped publishing in 2016 but his five 2009 talking points are still valid in 2018, Has anything changed since he published these action items?  Not really.  In fact one action item, student discipline has gotten worse under Mayor Bill de Blasio, with "warning cards" and useless restorative justice meetings rather than student suspensions and arrests.

You would think our union leadership would have adopted these five talking points and pressure the Mayor and Chancellor in reforming the money hungry and bloated DOE.  However, none of the five action points have been adopted by our union leadership.  In fact, President Michael Mulgrew told an Executive Board meeting that the UFT does not go after vindictive administrators since they are fellow union members (CSA).  What a crock of shit!  Of course he saw no issue in joining an anti-police rally organized by Al Sharpton,  Aren't the police (PBA) fellow union members?  Our union leadership is complicit in the DOE's attack on their teachers and rather than be pro-active they barely react to the DOE's policies that hurt the classroom environment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Teachers Paid 20% Less Than Other Professions Natonally.

Nationally, teachers are being paid 20% less than other professions and the teacher pay gap has actually grown over the last twenty-five years, despite a teacher shortage in many areas of the country.  Obviously, where the teacher pay gap is greatest like Arizona and Colorado, teacher shortages were most severe.

It was understandable during the great recession of 2008-12 that teacher salaries were essentially frozen and  layoffs were in force.  However, as the recession morphed into economic prosperity and low unemployment,teacher salaries failed to recover.  Moreover, class sizes were increased during the recession but politicians failed to allocate funds to reduce class sizes.  Why?  The answer is simple State legislatures used the extra funding that went into State coffers to give residents an across the board tax cuts, rather than fully fund the schools. Unfortunately,  politicians are more interested, like Governor Andrew Cuomo (without the tax cuts like other States), in seeking out "bad teachers" rather than fully fund school districts.

The result of the short sighted actions by the State Legislatures and the Governors are that schools are underfunded, lacked adequate resources, like books and other necessary materials, and oversized classes. No wonder only 5% of college students want to go into education, down from 21% in 2014. An updated map shows which State has anticipated teacher shortages for the 2018-19 school year due to their lack of attractiveness to teach in those States.

The teacher wage gap started in 1994 and has increased ever since. For all public-sector teachers, the relative wage gap (regression-adjusted for education, experience, and other factors known to affect earnings) has grown substantially since the mid-1990s. The teacher wage penalty was 1.8 percent in 1994, grew to 4.3 percent in 1996, and reached a record 18.7 percent in 2017.

Wage penalties have grown significantly for both male and female teachers
  • The wage premium that female teachers had in the 1960s and 1970s has long been erased, replaced by a growing wage penalty. Our previous research found that female teachers earned 14.7 percent more in weekly wages than comparable female workers in 1960. This report finds that the teacher weekly wage premium for female teachers had fallen to 4.2 percent in 1979. And the wage premium for female teachers largely disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s, replaced by a large and growing wage penalty in the 2000s and 2010s. In 2017, female public school teachers were making 15.6 percent less in wages than comparable female workers.

  • The wage penalty for male teachers is much larger. The weekly wage penalty for male teachers was 22.1 percent in 1979 and improved to 15.1 percent in 1994, but worsened in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. In 2017, male public school teachers were making 26.8 percent less in wages than comparable male workers.
You can read the entire Economic Policy Institute report Here. Please also read Time Magazine's article on the ever increasing teacher pay gap.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Seattle Teachers Negotiate a 10.5%, One Year Pay Raise.

Threatening to strike on the first day of school, the City of Seattle caved into the union's demand and authorized a 10.5% annual raise for the 2016-19 school year.  Moreover, the teachers also obtained an additional five days of parental leave.  Finally, the contract offers health benefits for substitute teachers. By contrast UFT negotiated a similar raise for seven years!

Maybe our union leadership should take a page out of the Seattle teachers union playbook and get a better contract for their members.  In addition, there were no "givebacks". You can read the newspaper article Here.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Has Anything Changed For The ATRs? No!

There was some hope that an outsider would be appointed Chancellor and "clean house" at Tweed, eliminate "Fair Student Funding", and require that all excessed teachers be placed before "newbies" could be hired.  Disappointingly, the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza, did none of the above.  While 1,000+ veteran teachers are in the ATR pool, 5,000 "newbies" were hired this school year.

Tuesday, a new school year begins and there are over 1,000+ ATRs, mostly veteran teachers, will find themselves in a strange school for a period of time until the DOE arbitrarily decides to move them to another strange school. Moreover, the ATRs will find themselves observed by both the school administration and the field supervisor while teaching in a strange classroom with students who know that the ATR doesn't control their grade.  Finally, the ATR will have no say in the school they are assigned to.

  • The school has no parking?  Too bad.
  • It takes over two hours by mass transit.  Tough luck.
  • You are assigned to a school without an elevator.  So what.
  • You have a handicap sticker and the school offers no accommodation.  That's your problem.
  • You don't like the school climate?  You have no say in the matter.
We can only hope that the next contract negotiated by t5he UFT will eliminate the ATR pool by placing all ATRs in their subject area before any vacancies can be filled.  Stop with the gimmicks like provisionally placed, teaching out of license,  or giving extra periods to existing staff.

While I can hope for positive change for the ATRs, realistically, I expect.little change for the plight of the ATRs as both the present UFT leadership and the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE accept the status quo.  Therefore, look for the ATR pool to be unaffected and that's a shame.

Friday, August 31, 2018

President Donald Trump Wants To Freeze Federal Employee Raises.

President Donald Trump realizing that there will be a $700 deficit, due to his corporate tax cuts and the Congress passing a bloated spending bill, has decided to unfairly blame Federal employees by freezing their pay.  The anticipated 2.1% raise that would have been in employee paychecks on January 1, 2019 will no longer happen if the President gets his way.  Congress may still overrule the President and is currently proposing a 1.9% raise.  My guess the federal employee raises will be closer to 1% as a compromise.  Furthermore, he also wants to eliminate the locality pay differentials that reward Federal employees who work in high cost of living localities.

The military is unaffected and their 2.5% raise, the biggest in nine years, will remain unaffected.

You can read some newspaper articles Here, Here, and Here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The More Money Spent On A Student, The Better They Do On High-Stakes Tests.

Most educators know that resource rich schools have students who do better on high -stakes tests.  This assumption is disputed by education reformer organizations who claim its all about the teacher.  Well, we now have a study that shows that educators are right, the more money spent on a student, the better they do on high-stakes tests.

The study shows that when funding per pupil increases, both English and Math test grades increase.  In schools, like in New York City, there is less than a correlation because of the way NYCDOE allocates funding and it's difficult to trace where the money goes.   Consequently, additional funding is not always spent on the student but ends up in the Central Bureaucracy.The study can be found Here.

Chalkbeat does a good job summarizing the paper and can be found Here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Imagine If Our Schools Followed The Example Of This School In Oklahoma?

A high school in Oklahoma has implemented a policy that fines students and their families $250 for repeated student lateness and believe it or not, can be imprisoned for up to 15 days in jail if they refuse to pay the fines!  This is the second high school that fines students who are late to school.  You can read the high school in Utah Here.

Can you imagine if that policy was adopted for the New York City High Schools where 20 to 25% of high school students show up late to class and over 50% for their first period class?   Moreover, just imagine that the fine money would totally eliminate the 10% budget shortfall that our schools currently experience and reduce class sizes to manageable numbers, from 34 to 25 or less.  Finally, the students who repeatedly show up late and refuse to pay the $250 fine will spend 15 days in the local pokey and probably stop going to school and disrupt the classroom, thereby allowing for coherent instruction and a peaceful classroom.  A win-win situation for the vast majority of students.

Of course I'm dreaming since Bill de Blasio will never allow fines for lateness and at worst will only approve "warning cards" to be issued rather than jail time.  Too bad, since it would go a long way in improving the hostile environment of the New York City high school classroom.   

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pity The Tier VI Teacher.

A new school year will be starting in September and approximately 5,000 "newbie" teachers will be thrown in the classroom.  The question is how long will they last?  With Charlotte Dainelson, inept administration, and lax student discipline rules, many of these "newbies" will end up quitting.  At best, maybe 50% of the "newbies" will be still in the classroom.  Moreover, 80% will no longer be teaching in the school they started in.  Finally, only 33% will make it to vesting for a pension and less to receive retiree health benefits.

Below summarizes the comparison between the two tiers.

Tier IV.
Vesting for a pension, between 5 to 10 years.
Employee contribution 3% first 10 years , then 0% beyond ten years.
Highest three consecutive years for determining the pension.
Five to ten years to receive retiree health benefits.
Multiplier, 1.67% per year for less than 20 years,  2% between 20 to 30 years.
1.5% per year for years beyond 30 years of service.
Age Reduction Factor, 0.73 to 0.94 from 55 to 61.

Tier VI.
Vesting for a pension, ten years.
Employee contribution 4.5% to 6%, depending on salary. 
Highest five consecutive years for determining pension.
Fifteen years to receive retiree health benefits.
Multiplier, 1.67% per year for the first 20 years. 2% for 20 years or more.
Age reduction factor, 0.48 to 0.94% from 55 to 62.  

To show how unlikely these "newbie" teachers will make it to full retirement, please play my Tier VI retirement game Here

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Another Losing Hand Negotiated By Our Failed Union Leadership.

In my twenty-five years I worked as a teacher, every contract or changes to the contract negotiated by our union leadership always require member "givebacks"  by the UFT.  Now our failed union leadership negotiated a parental;, not family leave provision, that required the members to give back 75 days worth of a raise.  You can read the UFT negotiated parental leave document Here.

While our union leadership proclaim victory, the City's Independent Budget Office determined that the De Blasio Administration would save $9.5 million dollars with the deal.

Read the ICEUFT blog for a detailed analysis of the UFT negotiated parental leave provisions and once again the UFT membership gets snookered.  Furthermore, read what Reality Based Educator feels about our union leadership.  Here.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Why Some High Schools Cannot Attract Good Students.

When then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein all but eliminated the large neighborhood comprehensive high schools by opening up to all students the ability to  select any citywide school to apply to while closing low performing schools.  This misguided program resulted in the closing of most of the large comprehensive high schools throughout the City.  The result was increased academic and racial segregation that made the New York City public school system one of the most segregated school districts in the nation.

Now Mayor Bill de Blaiio and his Chancellor, Richard Carranza.  have vowed to integrate the schools and that is a worthy goal, except they are going about it the wrong way when it comes to the high schools.

Presently,  both the Mayor and Chancellor have failed to change the high school admission procedure that have resulted in the segregated high schools.  Until the DOE eliminates the citywide high school admission requirements and brings back the large comprehensive neighborhood high schools academic and racial segregation will continue. An example of this are the academically struggling Renewal High Schools, which are almost 100% minority, compared to 70% for all citywide students

In Chicago, a study done by a pro-charter organization called "kids first" showed that in the poorest schools in that city, the schools in high poverty, mainly Black student body, have one empty seat for each two students entering their schools.  The reason is like New York City, students can apply to any school in the city.  Therefore, these schools become more segregated academically and racially. You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.

Please read my post on how some New York City High Schools cannot attract students, especially the Renewal High Schools.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Are Schools Safe? Yeah Right - Part 4.

The New York Post has an article that shows that rape and sexual assault has skyrocketed the last school year in the New York City public schools.  This is just another example how Mayor Bill de Blasio's lax student discipline code has resulted in the public schools being increasingly unsafe.

According to the New York Post, using NYPD school safety data found the following:

  • Sex crimes skyrocketed by 138% last school year.
  • There were 31 felony sexual misconduct arrests last year compared to 16 the year before. That is almost double from the 2016-17 school year.
  • Overall sex crimes increased by 76% from 51 in the 2016-17 school year to 83 in the 2017-18 school year.
  • Rape charges increased by 240% last school year, from 5 in the 2016-17 school year to 12 last school year.
Are our schools safe?  Yeah right!  If you believe in the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and Santa Claus Just read my previous posts about school safety.  Here, Here, and Here. Also read this article  Here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why is Chancellor Carranza Flying All Over The Country Rather Than Tackling The Problems At The DOE?

Let's get one thing straight.  I understand that as head of the largest public school system in the country, the Chancellor's presence is much in demand and under normal circumstances, I would not have a problem with the Chancellor traveling to these conferences and discussion groups.   However, since Chancellor Richard Carranza is new to the job, he has much "housecleaning" to do and has not done it.

The first thing he should have done by now is to eliminate the Central Bureaucracy bloat at the DOE. Instead, he actually added to the bloat by installing an additional layer of upper management. Presently, many of the Bloomberg era policymakers are still in their jobs as they continue to implement policies that hurts both students and teachers alike.

He has also failed to resolve the ATR situation and eliminate school-based fair student funding that forces principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.

Finally, schools are still suffering from recession era budgets and are underfunded by 10% of their fair funding.

Before our Chancellor should be gallivanting around the country, he first needs to to solve the issues at home.  A more detailed post can be found Here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Warped School Safety Program.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has weakened both school discipline codes and school safety rules since he took control of the New York City Public Schools.  Under the Mayor, he has made schools increasingly unsafe.

First, he allowed students to carry cellphones in school and this has proven a distraction to classroom learning.  Especially, in low achieving schools.

Second, he reduced suspensions by schools by requiring principals to get DOE permission before a school can suspend a student.

Third, he drastically reduced students carrying weapons from being arrested or suspended.

Finally, he has now imposed useless 'warning cards" for arrestable actions, like drug possession or disorderly conduct.

I feel sorry for parents who have academically proficient students and must suffer the distractions, chaos, and safety issues that Mayor Bill de Blasio has brought to the New York City Public Schools.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Why Does Bill de Blasio Want School Speed Cameras Rather Than Speed Bumps?

The Republican controlled State Senate refused to renew the  school speed cameras for New York City schools due to political considerations and their hostility for the Mayor are the  reasons that the city had their school speed cameras shut off.  Bill de Blasio demands that the school speed cameras be turned back on and wants it expanded to all s schools to protect students.

The existing speed cameras only operate between 7am and 4pm during school days.  However, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants them to operate during daylight hours and add another 150 school speed cameras to the existing 120.  He claims it's a school staff issue but I suspect its about the money for fines that end up in the city coffers.

Instead of speed cameras, every school street should have a speed bump.  This way all cars, not just law-abiding ones will slow down   Why didn't Mayor Bill de Blasio propose school speed bumps?

First, school speed bumps cost the City money to install. Second, the speed bumps don't generate funding for the City.  So, instead of making money on the school speed cameras, they would pay to install school speed bumps.  For the Mayor it's not school safety but revenue.

That's why Mayor Bill de Blasio wants school speed cameras and not school speed bumps.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fighting And Bullying Are A Common Occourrence In New York City Public Schools.

Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim that New York City public schools are safer, the truth is far different.  In today's New York Post, the article claims that District 29, which includes Cambria Heights,  Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Saint Albans, and parts of Jamaica has the highest rates of bullying and fighting in the City.

According to the article, middle school IS 59 in Springfield Gardens had the highest reported occurrences of bullying and fighting.  At IS 59 in Springfield Gardens, 86 percent of students reported skirmishes — with 49 percent saying those occurred “most of the time.”  Also,  At Queens United Middle School in Springfield Gardens, 72 percent of survey takers reported regular fighting, with 42 percent saying it was a constant feature of their environment.

While District 29 in Queens has the highest incidents of bullying and fighting,the other school districts have similar issues with 43% of the city students reported fights in their school and 14%  see fights "most of the time".  Thanks to the lax school discipline policy by Mayor Bill de Blasio, students are not safe from bullying and fighting in the New York City public schools.
Safe schools?  Yeah Right.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Why Did The DOE Hide The SHSAT Report?

After an over five year wait, the DOE finally released the Metis Associates report on whether the SHSAT is an indicator of student academic achievement in high schools.  The report's conclusion was that there was a strong correlation between passing the SHSAT and academic achievement in high school.  The question is why did the DOE refuse to release the report to the public for five years?

The report was commissioned by the DOE after the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint that the SHSAT was not a valid indicator of student academic achievement.  In the New York Times article the report found that the mean G.P.A. for students who scored high enough on the test to be accepted to one of the specialized high schools was 3.036 in their first year compared with 2.387 for students who were not accepted to the specialized schools. Similarly, the mean scores for accepted students on Regents examinations ranged between 82.59 and 93.41 across various subjects. The mean scores for students not admitted ranged from 68.69 and 79.16.

Obviously, the Metis Associates report did not support the NAACP's claim that the SHSAT was not a valid indicator of student academic achievement in high school and the City administration decided not to release the report.  Why?

The answer to that question needs to be made public.  Was it a racial issue?  How about poverty?   Maybe it was due to political considerations?  Could it be all three?  The public has a right to know why the DOE refused to release the report to the public?  What were they afraid of?

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Disconnect Between Weapons In Schools And Student Suspensions.

The Bill de Blasio administration has made a big deal about the lower student suspension rate but is quiet when it comes to the uptick in student weapon confiscations. This disconnect is one of the reasons that Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim that the city schools are safer than ever is snickered at by most education experts.

In today's New York Post, Susan Edelman has published an article showing that weapon confiscations have risen significantly since Bill de Blasio became Mayor.  Despite the skyrocketing student weapon confiscations in school, the suspension and arrest rates have dropped since many of the weapons confiscated were considered legal such as kitchen knives and box cutters,  Moreover, principals are reluctant to suspend students caught with weapons because it hurts their statistics when being evaluated in their "quality review" and all suspensions must be approved by the DOE who can and do overrule the Principal's recommendation.

According to the Post's article weapon confiscations rose an astounding 28% last school year, rising from 2,119 in he 2016-17 school year to 2,718 in the 2017-18 school year,

No wonder students don't feel safe outside their classroom.   You can read my posts on weapons in the schools Here, Here, Here, and Here.

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Superintendent Of The Patchogue-Medford School Distrtict Supports The "Opt Out" Movement.

The "opt out" movement is alive and well and still going strong despite NYSED claims that fewer students "opted out" last year.   While statistically that's true, still 19% "opted out" statewide last year and 51% on Long Island.  In solidly white, middle class communities on Long Island, the "opt out" rate saw close to 3 out of 4 students "opt out".  By contrast, NYC had a 3% "opt out" rate as both the UFT and the DOE discouraged parents from "opting out".

Now in an opening salvo to NYSED, the Superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford school district  has sent a letter to teachers telling them that the State tests were useless and should be thrown into the garbage.  The school district had a 76% "opt out" rate last year and it may be higher next year in light of the Superintendent's letter.

The student growth scores are based upon  "junk science"  and the State must eliminate this useless metric,  Renumber, "garbage in, garbage out".

For more information about the "opt out" issues and the teacher evaluation system you can read my posts Here, Here, and Here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Bring Back Academic Tracking To Help Diversify The Specialized High Schools.

Back in the 60's and 70's every child was tracked academically starting in upper elementary school and when they entered junior high school (grades 7 to 9), they were placed, based on their academic achievement.  The smartest students were assigned to Special Placement classes (SP or SPE).  The next group were placed in classes 7-1 to 7-4.  Academically struggling students were dumped into the lower numbers . like 7-10 to 7-14.   By the time the junior high students were eligible to take the SHST, every high achieving student from every junior high school in the City had a fighting chance to be selected to the three specialized high schools, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx high school of Science, and Stuyvesant.

During this time period, all three schools were more diverse.  In fact, Brooklyn Tech had a majority minority student population.  What changed?  Simple, the city eliminated academic tracking when child advocates and minority pressure groups claimed that Black and Latino students were dumped into the lower tracks.  Eventually, the City caved and eliminated tracking.  The result was that many middle class parents of high achieving students moved to better neighborhoods with better schools, leaving behind lower class parents and less desirable schools.

To make matters worse.  The lack of a father in many households, especially in the Black community, resulted in financial insecurity, a lack of discipline, and disrespect which adversely affected academic achievement.   With no "gifted and talented" programs and tracking, the schools in lower class neighborhoods were at an academic disadvantage, when compared to the middle class neighborhoods.

Adding to the problem was the influx of East Asian  (Chinese, Koren, Japanese) of recent immigrants  who emphasized academics to their children.  Is it any wonder that the three specialized high schools have an over representation of this cohort?

The bottom line is that to diversify the specialized high schools the City must form a "gifted and talented" program, for every elementary school and tracking for the middle schools.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chancellor Richard Carranza Has Been A Disappointment So Far.

Half the summer has passed and its time to evaluate Chancellor Richard Carranza..  Here is what I evaluated the Chancellor on:
  • Cleaning out the Bloomberg era policymakers at the DOE.
  • Eliminate "fair student funding".
  • Resolving the ATR situation.
  • Removing misbehaving and vindictive principals.
  • Removing the many incompetent Superintendents.
  • Reduce the administrative bloat at the DOE.
  • Reduce teacher observations to two per year. 
  • Eliminate the hostile classroom environment.
  • Lower class sizes.
Cleaning out the Bloomberg era policymakers at the DOE:
So far Chancellor Richard Carranza has failed to do any "Spring cleaning" and the Bloomberg era policymakers remain in place.  Grade "F".

Eliminating fair student funding:
The 800 pound guerilla is fair student funding that discriminates against experienced teachers and incentivizes principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers for their schools". 

Resolving the ATR situation:
Presently, the new Chancellor has done nothing to solve the ATR situation for the next school year.  Grade "F".

Removing misbehaving and vindictive principals:
Under the new Chancellor we have seen a few principals removed when their misdeeds were exposed by the newspapers.  Otherwise, little has changed,  Grade "C".

Reduce the administrative bloat at the DOE:
The new Chancellor failed to reduce the administrative bloat at the DOE.  In fact, he added a layer of bureaucracy by appointing a group of Super Superintendents that will oversee the other Superintendents and will cost 2.5 Million dollars!  Grade "F".

Reduce teacher observations to two per year.
So far Chancellor Richard Carranza has not offered to change the number of observations or the Charlotte Danielson evaluation.  Grade "F".

Eliminate the hostile classroom environment.
The new Chancellor claims he is teacher friendly but only time will tell if it translates to actions in the classroom like "let teachers have autonomy on instructing their students.   Grade "C".

Reducing class sizes:
There s no indication that Chancellor Richard Carranza will reduce class sizes the next school year.  Grade "F".

Final grade "D-".

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Success Academy's Manhattan High School Has 70% Of It's Staff Leave.

Add caption

Teacher turnover is a vexing problem in charter schools when it comes to retaining teachers.   On the average, charter schools lose 33% of their teaching staff yearly.  However, Success Academy's Manhattan high school has an even higher turnover rate.  The school admitted that 70% of its professional staff has left.  According to the Wall Street Journal article the breakdown is as follows:
  • 25 quit
  • 9 were dismissed
  • 13 took jobs elsewhere in the network.
  • Only 20 (30%) remain.
\Most of the teachers that left cited a punitive culture that focused on discipline and testing.

That left only 20 teachers who will return to the high school. No wonder Eva Moskowitz had SUNY 's  Charter Board try to weaken the teacher certification system for charter schools since her network experiences extremely high teacher turnover and eventually the influx of freshly minted "newbie" teachers will dry up as fewer college students are going into teaching, especially as the economy is on an upswing and teaching salaries and lack of respect cannot compete with other professions.

Under existing rules, only 13% of the teaching staff do not need to be certified and Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy will have a difficult time getting down to that percentage.  Look for the network to either get a waiver or manipulate the statistics to meet the 13% threshold.

Too bad her pals, Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein cannot come to her rescue this time.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Open Market Transfer System Is Still A Joke For Veteran Teachers.

The summer of 2018 is a time when teachers, dissatisfied with their existing school, can seek to transfer to another school.  However, since the implementation of school based Fair Student Funding (fsf) only teachers with less than five years of experience, especially if they are not tenured, are able to be hired since the more experienced teachers are too much of a hit on the school budget,

Ask any teacher who has ten or more years of experience if they are even offered an interview?  The answer is probably no.  The Open Market Transfer System (OMTS) is simply a sick joke when it  comes to experienced teachers.  While there are always some exceptions, like hiring a bilingual Special Education teacher for example.  For the vast majority of experienced teachers it's a futile process and despite a new Chancellor, nothing has changed since the OMTS started in 2006.

Interestingly, the DOE and the UFT refuse to publish the demographic breakdown of theteachers hired through the OMTS and for good reason as the OTMS statistics would most certainly show a pattern of discrimination against veteran teachers.

The bottom line is that the OMTS is just a sick joke,  You can read my previous artices on the Open Market Transfer System Here, Here, Here, and Here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Most NYC High School Students Are Not College Ready.


Over the years, fewer that 25% of NYC high school graduates were college ready and must take no-  credit remedial courses at the seven community colleges.  However, this year, only 62.5% of the NYC high school graduates were subject to remedial college courses, down from 80% the year before.  Did the students get smarter?  No, the reason for the drop was that CUNY loosened the Math requirements.

Just like the State who lowered the cut scores on their Math test, CUNY used the SATs or allowed the student to take the exam again if she or he failed the first time.  Moreover, the student no longer needs to take or pass Algebra II (Trigonometry).  CUNY's dumbing down the Math requirements does not make the entering students anysmarter.

While the NYC high school graduation rate keeps rising, only 22% of the students complete three years at the CUNY Community colleges.

Read the New York Post article Here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Westchester Square Academy - Just Another High School Caught Using Bogus Online Courses.

A wanna be screened high school trying to keep their academic reputation intact has been caught cheating by giving bogus online causes to jack up their graduation rate.  The New York Post has exposed more phony credit recovery abuses, thanks to Susan Edelman.

The school is Winchester Square High School in the Bronx and it tried to pattern itself after the selective Brooklyn Latin.  However, no Latin is taught and the school could only attract a thin vernier of academically proficient students.  If you go to school digger you find that school doesn't do better the the District 8 average and well below the State.  You get read that Here.

Here are some of the disappointing statistics about Westchester Square Academy High School in the Bronx.

  • Ranked 923 out of 1,221 NYC high schools or the lower 25%,
  • Only 25% of the teachers trust the Principal.
  • 23% of teachers feel the administration clearly communicates with them.
  • College readiness is only 31%, below the City average of 49%
  • The majority of teachers are untenured,
  • High teacher turnover.
Here is the school's snapshot and you can see that the administration is lacking good judgement and fails to collaborate with the staff..

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Protect The Child, Hurt The Children

Chalkbeat wrote an article that made the connection between suspensions and students dropping out or ending in juvenile hall.  I don't disagree with the connection between suspensions and academic failure.  However, what the paper did not say is what happens when students are not suspended but instead, have a restorative justice session and gets to misbehave back in the classroom.  The result, is he or she affects the otherwise, peaceful classroom where learning and teaching suffers.

Ask any teacher how student academics are adversely affected when a misbehaving student continually disrupts the classroom and distracts the rest of the students with his or her antics. Moreover, misbehaving students are one of the major factors for teachers quitting the urban classroom.  Finally, misbehaving students make other students and school staff  feel that the school is "unsafe".

Suspensions are a necessary punishment and remedy, not restorative justice, or a warning card.  A saying that has stood the test of time "if you do the crime than you must do the time.  That goes with suspensions for misbehaving students.

Monday, July 09, 2018

ATRs Are Pawns When Negotiating A New Contract.

Every chess player knows that the goal to checkmating your opponent is to sacrifice  pieces to achieve that outcome.  In chess the piece that get sacrificed most often is the pawn.  In a well played game, few, if any pawns remain on the chessboard.   The same can be said when it comes to contract negotiations between the City and the UFT.

From the 2005 contract on, the City has asked the UFT for an ATR time limit;  Checkmate had the union agreed to one.  Thankfully, our union leadership has not allowed the City to checkmate ATRs.  However,  other abuses to the ATRs has resulted in the ATR sacraficing many of their "due process" rights.  Let's look at what the union sacraficed that has made ATRs second class citizens.

Maybe the City cannot checkmate the ATR but they can make the pawns mighty uncomfortable while trying to elude capture. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Maspeth High School, Just Say No To Any Vacancy. .

Back in 2012 I had the displeasure of being assigned to Maspeth High School for a month.  What were my observations of the school at that time?  Here is what I found.
  • The entire staff was composed of "newbies".
  • Few lasted to achieve tenure at the school.
  • Teachers had to wear name tags  to differentiate between staff and students.
  • Staff was unfriendly and forced to do extra unpaid periods. 
  • Students complained  about not having experienced teachers.
  • Administration will write up ATRs for any violations of the contract.
  • All students had to to take four years of Latin to keep out "undesirable"" students.
  • Chapter leaders lasted only one year as they were targeted by the Administration. 
The post I published about Maspeth High School back in 2016 can be found Here.
 Have things changed at Maspeth High School?  Nope.  Here is what a teacher wrote about the school in the Organizer.

  •  Is the staff friendly?  No
  • Most of the staff is not tenured.
  • Many teachers hired are right out of college,
  • Staff must do unpaid work.
  • Administration uses Danielson as a weapon.

The administration regularly violates the contract in Maspeth, teachers are NOT paid per session for "required" activities outside the school day such as mentoring meetings, chaperoning events, etc. A large majority of the staff are extremely young and untenured and will simply do as told even if it violates their rights. There are very few veteran staff in this building...wonder why... If you are older, tenured, and more vocal about your rights, administration will target you in any way possible. Veteran teachers need not apply.

 All teachers are regularly given four in a row teaching schedules and are expected to comply without protest. Of course the untenured newbies will do it and kiss ass to the admin for the sake of their job, but everyone else who dares to question it will become a target.
The school boasts a 100% graduation rate but the secret is that teachers cannot fail students. If you try to fail a student, admin will have their buddy buddy staff come into your classroom, yell and try to intimidate you into passing said students. Forget it if the student has an IEP. If you *dare* fail a student, you will not hear the end of it, and will be sat down by administration and their cronies in an effort to make you pass the student. Since its a well known thing that teachers cannot fail students (dubbed the "Maspeth Minimum"), students know that they could do no work all semester, and then ask for a packet of makeup work in the last marking period to get a passing grade in the course. This ultimately works against the teachers, because students will not listen to you when you tell them they are failing the course, or that they are in danger of failing the state exams (i.e. regents). Therefore, students who should have failed the course all year, passed, and then when they sat down for the exams in June, they had not a clue what to do and failed, because they were used to being handed 65's for minimal efforts. 

Teachers should beware of this school on the Open Market, they have high turnover but it is kept on the down low because of their inflated numbers that look great on paper. Much of what occurs in this school is toxic. The principal is like a mythical beast, you hear of him, but you never see him. Seniors in this school have no idea who he is since he never leaves his office. Instead of him being present, he has his 25 year old little suck up 2nd and 3rd year teachers who think they're masters acting like they run the place and DISRESPECTING staff whom are more experienced than they are!

Administration has their friends who act like spies and will look for anything and everything to get you, then run back to their admin friends and get you in trouble. many schools have problems with just administration, this school has problems with BOTH staff and administration. When people are pitted against one another, and teachers who have been in the DOE for many years are being suddenly given ineffective ratings after years of effectives and highly effectives because they happened to "say something about the wrong person" or ruffle someones feathers the wrong way, that is truly a toxic environment. 

Stay away from Maspeth High School. You can see "My Do Not Apply" list Here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Is Our Pension Inflation Adjusted? Yes, But There Are Restrictions.

Many teachers are retiring this summer and they may want to know how the Cost of Living (COLA) works once you retire.

Back in 2000, the State agreed to give a COLA to State and Local public employees.  However, the COLA has restrictions that come with it.  They are as follows.

  • The COLA is one half the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Only the first $18,000 is subject to the COLA.
  • The COLA adjustment starts five years after retirement if you retire at 62 or older.
  • The COLA adjustment starts ten years after retirement if you are 55 or older.
  • Maximum COLA is capped at 3% for CPI over 6%.
  • Minimum COLA is 1%.
  • Surviving spouse gets only one quarter of the COLA adjustment.
  • Disability Retire starts getting a COLA five years after starting disability.
  • Any outstanding loan at retirement will be considered income and taxed.  Pay off the loan before retiring.
Interestingly, the pension cap of $18,000 that is subject to the COLA adjustment has not changed since 2000, despite the fact that the commutative CPI has increased by 46.1%.  If the pension cap was raised, using the CPI, the pension cap should be $26,300!  You can use this inflation calculator for different time periods Here.

The average NYC teacher pension is $45,000 from 2016 data, that means that only 40% of the pension is subject to the inflation adjustment. You can use the pension table to determine how much money you will get in your pension assuming the maximum.