Sunday, May 20, 2018

The DOE Policy That Protects Pervy Principals Is Finallly Exposed By The Media.

The DOE claims they have a "zero tolerance" policy when a teacher is accused of sexual misconduct against a student.  The presumption is that any sexually based allegations against a teacher requires their removal from the school and reassigned to a "rubber room" until their 3020-a termination hearing is scheduled.  In fact, any sexually based charges usually results in the teacher receiving a "probable cause" hearing within a month of the DOE substantiating the charges, usually based on merely hearsay evidence and the word of the student.  The result is that the teacher is taken off salary and health benefits for up to 90 days and usually results in the teacher's firing if the 3020-a arbitrator upholds the sexual misconduct charges.

By contrast, principals who are accused of sexual misconduct by a teacher or other subordinates will retain their position and any lawsuits brought by the teacher will be fought "tooth and nail" by the DOE in the courts and when the DOE finally loses, the lawsuit, the court case has lasted five or more years.  Therefore, by the time the DOE decides to take action against the Principal, they no longer can file 3020-a charges since there is a three year "statue of limitations" between the sexual misconduct and the DOE initiating charges against the Principal. This is done purposely by the DOE since they practice a "double standard" when they assume the Principal is innocent until proven guilty, while teachers who are assumed guilty and removed from the classroom.

The New York Post identified five principals who were accused of sexual misconduct and some of them are still principals while the rest were either demoted to an assistant principal position or reassigned to an administrative office.  None of them faced 3020-a charges.  Mona Davids President, of the NYC Parents Union said it best

“Clearly the DOE is protecting these principals by running out the clock on the statute of limitations,” Davids said. “They’re not good leaders, and they’re a danger to our kids. If an adult is not safe around that person, what makes you think a child is?”

If the principals were subject to the same DOE rules as teachers, the principals would be reassigned , pending substantiation of the charges and be subject to a 3020-a hearing within the three year statue of limitations.  No longer will the DOE's "double standard" protect principals who comment misconduct, sexual or otherwise, by running out the clock and retaining their salary and benefits despite being guilty of the charges.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The NYC Small Schools Have Many Disadvanatages.


Being an ATR, I have first hand experience of the many disadvantages of the small school experience.  Unfortunately, for the students of these small schools they soon realize that the propaganda that the small high schools allow for a more family-like atmosphere and better academics (not true) pales in comparison of the many disadvantages associated wit the small high school experience.  Let's look at the many disadvantages of the small school experience.

Limited Curriculum:
Now that the small schools are under the same monetary limitations as all other schools which is about 90% of their fair funding, they cannot offer enough Advanced Placement or higher level courses to better prepare the student for college and students who do not like the teacher is stuck with him or her, .  Moreover, they lack flexibility and have limited choices beyond the State required courses.  Finally, in these small schools only one teacher may be certified to teach the subject.

Inexperienced Teachers:
Due to budgetary restrictions and DOE inspired hiring practices, many of the small schools have hired the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for the schools.  For many principals it's how much they can stretch their tight budget and veteran teachers are just too expensive.  Its common knowledge that there is a steep learning curve for "newbie" teachers and it takes 5 to 8 years for these teachers to master the Art of teaching.  That includes classroom management, curriculum knowledge, and social skills to work with a student population. In addition, the small schools are subject to high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment.

Lack of Extracurricular Activities:
Many of the small schools lack space for sports programs, may don't even have a gym!  Further, the limited funding means that schools must choose to offer either Art or Music but can't afford both,  Moreover,  physical education is limited to two or three days a week rather than everyday.Finally, programs like Dance, Literature, and clubs are almost non-existent in the small high schools.

Top Heavy In Administrators: 
Many of the small schools are top heavy in administrators with each small school having a Principal and between two and three assistant principals.  In the campus of a closed large comprehensive high school, the total amount of administrators to oversee 3,000 students was eight administrators, one Principal and seven assistant principals.  Now the four small schools that replaced it has fourteen administrators, four principals and ten assistant principals.  This does not include  administrative managers (coaches and financial managers etc.) assigned to the school who must pay for their services. The small schools are usually headed by  Leadership Academy Principal who have a reputation of not running a collaborative administration. 

Ask any high school student who go to these small high schools and they will tell you that they made a mistake because of the restrictions and limitations of the small school experience.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Why NYC's Small School Miracle Is A Mirage.

In Monday's New York Times there is an article on the lack of Music in many of the NYC small high schools that were created from the 69 large comprehensive high schools that Mayor Bloomberg closed.  While the article was accurate on the lack of a Music program, it only scratched the surface of the  problems with the small school miracle that Mayor Bloomberg and his education reformer administrators at the DOE claimed.  Let's examine the issues:

Graduation Rate:
The first thing the education reformers will bring up is the small school graduation rate increased substantially.  However, when you consider that the average small schools that came from the large comprehensive large schools had  only accepted a maximum enrollment of half the students of the closed large school, which students do you think were left out of the small schools?  The answer was the self contained Special Education students, the English Language Learners, and the students who had academic, behavioral, or attendance issues.  Moreover, the DOE ensured a higher graduation rate in the small schools by allowing these schools to exclude "high needs" students and while most large comprehensive high schools suffered from budget cuts that resulted in some schools receiving as little as 78% (Flushing high school for one) of their fair funding, the new small schools were fully funded at 100% and in some cases received extra funding of up to 50% more that their fair funding.  Finally, the DOE allowed these newly created small schools to keep their number of students down by excluding the "high needs" students and still be fully funded.  It's little wonder the first few graduating classes had a higher graduation rate. The cohorts were different from the cohort of the closed down large comprehensive high school it replaced.

As mention previously, the small schools that replaced the closed down large comprehensive schools were fully funded while the large comprehensive high schools were funded at between 78% to 82% of their fair funding.

Academic Fraud:
To keep up their graduation rate after the small schools were eventually required to take "high needs" students after a couple of years of excluding them.  The small schools were still allowed to exclude self contained students and English Language Learners who traditionally had low test scores and graduation rates.  The student cohorts became increasingly more like the large comprehensive schools they replaced.  Therefore school administrators resorted in "academic fraud" to jack up the graduation rate by giving struggling students "credit recovery" courses. and administrative inspired "scholarship guidelines" that linked a teacher's effectiveness to meeting the goal.  For example most school had a scholarship guideline of 80% passing of a teacher's roster, including no shows.  Failure to meet that goal could result in a teacher being rated "ineffective"  or  "unsatisfactory".  Furthermore, some principals would change grades from the teacher's failing to passing and would intimidate teachers, especially the untnured teacher to accept the changed grade.  Finally,  some schools go a step further by implementing a "blended learning" scheme that allowed all students to use online instruction rather than having a teacher instruct the student, they developed a blended learning program that had one teacher in charge of 50 or more students and the teacher was usually not certified in the subject and failed to provide adequate instructor.

The bottom line is that the first few years of the Bloomberg small schools they had a student cohort that was academically superior to the large comprehensive high school it replaced because the schools had small class sizes were fully funded, and excluded "high needs" students.  However, once the small schools had to accept the "high needs" students, have full class sizes, and were funded like every other school, the small school miracle became a mirage.  Even Bill Gates realized the small schools did not improve academic achievement.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Wiil Chancellor Carranza Remove More Terrible Principals?

One of the first constructive actions the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza has tackled head on was the removal of John Bowne's horn-dog Principal Howard Kwait who's had numerous accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment lodged against him.  According to the New York Post. Howard Kwait has cost the DOE $830,000 due to his inappropriate behavior told female subordinates.  This does not include the $4,500 he personally paid to the City's conflict of of interest board when he acceptable a paid vacation with a female subordinate.

Howard Kwait is not the only Principal that the new Chancellor should remove, let's look at another High School Principal Chancellor Carranza should remove in Queens.

The Principal is Namita Dawarka from William Cullen Bryant High School.  She has removed almost the entire veteran staff she inherited in 2012 by harassment, 3020-a charges, or forced retirement.  Moreover, she has been accursed of grade fixing and changing and manipulating classes so some students received double credits for the same course. Finally, she was accused of teat manipulation. You can read her actions.  Here, Here, Here, and Here. In addition, Principal Dwarka allegedly hid a sexual relationship between her handpicked Assistant Principal of Math and a student.  Despite the allegations when the AP of Math was shockingly released from reassignment she was reinstated as the AP of Math by Ms. Dawaka.

Beyond Ms. Dawarka, you can find a list of the worst Principals in Queens in a previous post.  Here. Then there is the biggest problem of them all.  The Superintendent, Juan Mendez, who either selected them, despite opposition (Judy Henry) or protected them (Juan Cruz), despite their alleged misconduct.  You can read it Here.   Finally, the New York Daily News listed a rouges gallery of DOE administrators accused of multiple sexual issues and are still employed.

The bottom line, Chancellor Richard Carranza cannot stop at one.  He must remove all those Principals that have low staff trust ratings and he must eliminate the "double standard" when it comes to disciplining administrators.  Moreover, he must ensure fair and independent investigations from the investigative agencies like OEO, OSI, and SCI. Especially when a subordinate accuses an administrator that they were sexual harassed and was not taken seriously by the DOE.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Most New Yorkers Believe Camen Farina's Tenure As Chancellor Was A Failure And I Agree.

The final poll on Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor of the New York City schools, most New Yorker's believe she was a failure.  In a Quninnipac poll 38% rated Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor as a failure, while 34% said she was successful.  This was a drop of 10% of Ms. Farina's approval rating since October of 2017.and shockingly was below Joel Klein' final approval rating of 46%..

I also believe that Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor was a failure and here's why.

Note: It took a new Chancellor to force the DOE to reassign John Browne Principal Howard Kwait as Carmen Farina failed to have him removed.  Read about him Here and Here.

The bottom line is that Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor of the New York City schools was a failure as she was part of the problem and not the solution when it came to improving the New York City schools.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The DOE's Bloated Bureaucracy Eats Up 24% Of the Education Budget.

Yesterday, NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer, blasted the DOE for its spending 24% of their budget on administrative costs.  This is over twice the national average of 11.1%.   Mr. Stringer cited the large class sizes, lack of resources for schools, and lack of adequate teacher hiring as factors that resulted with the funding shortfall of schools.  You can read it Here.

The almost recession era school budgets average 10% below their fair funding and the DOE inspired policies force principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school.  Further, to make ends meet, the principals will try to have the maximum amount of students for each class, the largest in the State..  Finally, many schools would rather use "newbie" teachers who are not certified in the subject they are assigned to teach, rather than hire a more expensive qualified teacher in the subject.  This is widespread in the Bronx but many schools in the other Boroughs are also guilty of using unqualified teachers.  You can read many of my posts about the bloated DOE Bureaucracy under Tweed Money.

When the DOE Bureaucracy  claims its "children first" its not about the children in the New York City Public Schools but their own children who benefit from these DOE administrators high salaries and lack of accountability.  In fact, here is what Comptroller Scott Stringer said about the allocation of funds sent to the DOE.

 “The Department of Education is a spending boondoggle,” he said. “They spend 24 percent of the money on administrators instead of teachers instead of resources for the classrooms.”

  See the ICEUFT blog for their take.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The DOE Protects Violent Students And Punishes School Staff Who Try To Defend Themeselves.

Over the last few years I have been hearing more stories how the DOE will protect students who are violent while going after paraprofessionals and teachers who dare defend themselves by either restraining the student.or even yelling at the student to stop his or her disruptive behavior.

Under the Bill de Blasio administration, everybody knows the student discipline code has been drastically weakened and has resulted in fewer student suspensions.  On the other hand,  The DOE continues to assume school staff are guilty, when accusations are made against them by students.  This continues since the beginning of the Bloomberg era.  The result is that violent student behavior is not punished and staff are afraid to be physically and verbally discipline the violent student.

 The parents of the student was informed by the student that the para had assaulted him and contacted the Superintendent, who told the Principal to remove the para from the classroom, pending an investigation.  In this case  OSI asked the Principal to do the investigation and she found that the para did the right thing but after two months sitting in a small room and not allowed to leave until the school day was over (bathroom and lunch breaks excluded), he was transferred to another classroom.  What was the student's punishment?  None.
According to the DOE school staff accused by a student are assumed guilty and removed from the classroom.  Even when cleared they are not innocent and the false accusation is still sitting in a file at either OSI or SCI, just waiting, for another accusation so they can substantiate it by claiming a"pattern and practice".

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Biggest Problems Facing Schools Nationally.

A national survey was done in 2002 that asked one simple question to parents.  What is the biggest problem facing your school.  Not surprisingly, the answer was under funding.  Below were the survey results.
  • Under funding.............23%
  • Lack of discipline.........17%
  • Drugs.........................13%
  • Violence...................... 9%
  • Lack of good teachers...8%
A similar national survey was done in 2017 and found little change to the data found in the 2002 survey .  They are as follows:However, this survey included the use of high stakes testing standards required by the Obama Administration for the education reform endorsed teacher evaluation system  that was not available in the original survey.
  • Under funding.............22%
  • Lack of discipline.........18%
  • State Standards............9%
  • Lack of good teachers...7%
  • Drugs...........................6%
  • Violence...................... 6%
Interestingly, despite the media reports of school violence and drug use, both are significantly less a problem for parents than in  2002.  However, the two major problems in the schools remain under funding and student discipline ,
  Is it any wonder that in the last two months we have seen four States, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, and West Virginia suffer a teacher walkout demanding higher wages and more resources for the schools.   In three of the four States, Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, negotiations were successfully concluded with significant pay raises for teachers.  However, in Arizona, the State refused to add resources to the schools and only promised to rescind previous education cuts. In Colorado the jury is out whether the teachers will achieve heir goal.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The New Action Caucus Contract Proposal Is One We Can All Support.

After I saw the MORE contract proposal which was strong on civil rights, diversity, and social justice and short on teacher justice, I decided I could not support MORE as they have lurched to the far left and supports many militant far left groups and approves work stoppages and job actions, despite the Taylor law that would cost educators two days pay for every one day of a work stoppage.  As for the mainstream "Unity" caucus?  ou can read it on South Bronx School blog. When it comes to the "Unity" caucus,  I hold little hope that they will negotiate a favorable contract, based on prior negotiated contracts  I don't expect a favorable wage contract with raises ranging from 1% to 2%. . less than the inflation rate.  Moreover, they negotiate secretly, without member input.  I can only hope that the UFT does not allow for any "givebacks" in the next contract.  As for the Educators 4 Excellence (E4E)?  They are a corporate reform "fifth column" and whatever they propose is not worthy for consideration.

That leaves the New Action caucus contract proposal and I liked what they are proposing.  They are strong on teacher justice, want to eliminate fair student funding, the ATR pool, reduce class size, and publicize abusive administrators.  Moreover, they propose raises above the rate of inflation and no "givebacks"!, Finally, they want a six week paid family leave.  Read South Bronx School blog for the actual list of the New Action contract demands.

The bottom line, the New Action contract proposals are teacher friendly and represents the interests of the classroom teacher.  The New Action contract proposal is far superior to the other caucuses and I am thinking strongly of joining the New Action caucus.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The City Continues To Play Hardball With Unions On The Next Contract.

The Bill de Blasio administration continues to play hardball with the unions on the next contract.  According to the PBA and DC37, the City has only offered 1% raises and any extra wage hikes must be paid by "givebacks".  While family leave is a top priority for most of the unions, the City wants the unions to follow the City imposed family leave policy on their non union managers which resulted in a windfall for the City economically.  So far, no union has agreed to the City leave policy. A City Council analysis  found that an acceptable family leave proposal would cost the City $250 million dollars.  A sum the City can well afford with their $3 billion budget surplus.

The present day inflation rate is 2.10% and is expected to rise to close to 3% by the end of the calendar year and probably higher in the 2019 calendar year.  Therefore, just to keep up with the expected inflation rate, the unions shouldn't settle for anything less than two 3% raises, without "givebacks"and that  should be the floor.

Moreover, the City is, once again. demanding health care "givebacks".  Be it either higher co payments by employees or higher deductibles.   At this point, no union has or will agree to higher health care costs since they agreed to them on the previous contract.

Finally, the City has a 3 billion dollar surplus and giving unions across the board 3% raises (4% for uniformed employees) will not brake the bank.  For every 1% raise, the City pays $586 million dollars.  Therefore, for a 3% raise, it will cost the city $1.76 billion dollars the first year.  Given the slightly high rate for uniformed employees the total first year City payout is probably closer to $2 billion dollars.  That still leaves the City with a $1 billion dollar surplus. While the City payout will increase over the next two or three years, the economic growth of the City will aslo increase.  Therefore, the budget surplus should be at or more than the 2018 level.

The bottom line, the City can well afford to give it's hard working public sector employees a wage increase  that keeps pace with inflation.and a family leave policy tht's fair to all.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Randi Weingarten And Michael Bloomberg's Educational Fantasyland

On April 27th the newspaper USA Today had an op ed article jointly written by AFT President Randi Weingarten and Michael Bloomberg on how teachers are poorly paid and not treated as professionals.  While I agree with the op ed, I also think the two authors are hypocrites. Both Randi Weingarten as UFT President and Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City collaborated to create the teacher narrative in the first place and made a more hostile classroom environment for the New York City teachers.

It wasn't long ago that Michael Bloomberg went after teachers with a vengeance. Remember what he did as Mayor of New York City?

  • Refused to give teachers the citywide negotiated 4%  raises for 2008 and 2009.
  • Tried to pass legislation on "last in, first out: to eliminate teachers without due process.
  • Wanted to reduce teachers by 50% by raising class sizes to 70.
  • Closed 162 schools and most veteran teachers were dumped into the ATR pool.
  • Imposed "Fair Student Funding" that incentivizes principals to hire cheaper "newbie teachers".
  • Removed the seniority transfer system.
  • Created the ATR pool that reached over 2,500 excessed teachers.
  • Saw a sharp rise in 3020-a charges and hired more lawyers to prosecute teachers.
  • Hired non-educator managers that made the DOE the enemy of teachers.
  • Supported and encourage the rise in charter schools while closing public schools.
  • Refused to reduce class sizes, despite calls to do so.
  • Parents were ignored and left out when they objected to school closings.
  • Supported-the Bill Gates inspired  small schools which even Bill Gates found not to improve student academic achievement.
  • Required a longer school day for raises the barely exceeded the inflation rate.
  • Punitive teacher evaluation system.
Of course UFT President, Randi Weingarten, was a willing collaborator to Mayor Bloomberg's attack on teachers.  She allowed many of the Bloomberg inspired anti-teacher policies to be implemented.
  • Allowed the elimination of the seniority transfer system and the rise of the ATR pool, mostly consisted of veteran teachers.
  • Allowed the DOE to implement the "Fair Student Funding" policy.
  • Agreed to the terrible 2005 contract that was "giveback" laden and made teaching more difficult.
  • Approved the reduction of the TDA's fixed income fund interest rate from 8.25% to 7.00%.
  •  Agreed to remove teachers accused but not convicted of felonies or sexual misconduct to be suspended without pay or benefits.
Now, the two of them are advocating for higher teacher pay and treating teachers as professionals.  While some people may believe they are sincere, I for one know better since I saw what Randi Weingarten and Michael Bloomberg did in New York City and their agreed policy changes has made the New York City classroom a hostile environment as the Bloomberg managers that run the DOE is considered the enemy by most, if not all teachers.

Both AFT President, Randi Weingarten and ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg are hypocrites.  Read the NYC Educator blog for his take on the "op ed" article.

Here are some of my posts that show what they did while in power in New York City.
Here, Here, Here, and Here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is MORE Unraveling As It Shifts Left?

There are some disturbing rumors that the opposition caucus MORE has turned sharply leftward and has made some long-term members uncomfortable about remaining in MORE.  Apparently, the MORE steering committee has removed those moderate members who opposed this new leftward ideology.

In MORE's proposed contract negotiations, MORE is long on social justice issues and short on teacher rights   They want to join forces with the militant far left organizations and proposes risky work stoppages and job actions along with rhetoric that emphasizes civil rights and social equity over teacher rights.

I never joined MORE because of the influence of the left faction, which, if not communist is close to it.  Now it seems they have taken control of MORE and has shifted the opposition caucus to the far left and I believe that the moderate members of MORE will be asked to leave or leave on their own and form another opposition caucus, probably ICEUFT.

Read Norm Scott's article to get an insider's perspective  Here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

James Brown Is Back Once Again.

It  has come to my attention that James Brown is back on the DOE payroll.  Now he is assistant Superintendent under the infamous Juan Mendez.  For the uninformed, James Brown was an administrator on Long Island in Baldwin and was found guilty by a jury in a civil complaint of harassment and retaliation and cost the school money to settle the case.

Mr. Brown was removed from the Baldwin school in 2009 and was sent to the District office, away from the children, until he resigned in 2012.  Mr. Brown was also accused of saying sexually inappropriate comments. While at Baldwin, Brown was accused of remarking on the tightness of a female student’s pants, said a federal lawsuit against him.  He also said to the female dean to make a school report “tight as a virgin’s, well, you know what is tight on a virgin,” she reported.

In September 2013 a new Principal was appointed for the troubled Flushing High School and it was the one and only James Brown .  In a Walcott administration that claimed "zero tolerance" for sexual issues, James Brown was hired despite his past.  You can read it Here.

Mr. Brown lasted all of one year before being replaced and ended up in a DOE back office  before leaving for the charter schools and most people thought that was the end of James Brown.

Fast forward to 2018 and James Brown is now assistant superintendent for Juan Mendez.  How the hell did he get back into the DOE? 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Violence, Threats, And Bullying Against School Staff Increases Under Bill De Blasio.

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor, he weakened the student discipline code, allowed student cellphones use in the schools, and reduced student misbehavior that had previously resulted in arrests or suspensions.  The result was that the De Blasio administration shwed student arrests and suspensions wewre down and the schools were safer. While school arrests and suspensions are down, due to lax discipline rules, school have becoming more unsafe.

The New York Post had an article that showed an increase in student assaults and threats against staff.  The numbers are very disturbing.

  •  2016-17,  10.825 incidents.
  • 2015-16,   10,357 incidents.
  • 2014-15,    9.686 incidents.
The latest numbers show an unacceptable increase of 4,5% from the previous year and a 11.8% increase from two years ago.

“The mayor’s narrative is that the schools are safer, crime is down. These stats show crime is not down. Assaults are high, threats are high,” said school-agent union leader Gregory Floyd.
“I’ve said from the beginning of the de Blasio administration, the schools are out of control.”

The bottoim line is that the schools are more unsafe then ever.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Is The DOE Really Collaborating With Teachers?

and that they have a good relationship with the teachers union and teachers in general.  The truth is the classroom teacher finds the DOE the enemy and for good reason.

First, the DOE continues to impose Fair Student Funding on schools that penalize schools who hire veteran teachers and forced principals to"hire the cheapest rather than the best teachers for their school".

Second, the DOE only funds the schools at 90% of their fair funding.  While the bloated bureaucracy continues to eat up precious funds.

Third, the DOE continues to target veteran teachers through the 3020-a process as the numbers are as high as in the Bloomberg era.anti-teacher  Danielson program to evaluate teachers and insists on four observation per year.

Rather then the DOE being a correlative partner, they are considered the enemy of the classroom teacher and for good reason.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Chancellor Carranza's Idea Of An Effective School.

Chancellor Richard Carranza visited Staten Island and told the local media his six key components that makes an effective school.  They are as follows:
  1. Strong leadership
  2. Excellent teachers.
  3. Strong and varied curriculum.
  4. School and classroom organization.
  5. Social and emotional learning.
  6. Parent outreach and empowerment.
While I agree with the new Chancellor on all but one item.   However, let's see if he practices what he is preaching by removing the far too many bad and incompetent principals in the system.  When Carmen Farina was appointed Chancellor she mentioned that there were 400 principals that need to be removed.  How many did she actually remove?  About a handful. Let's see if the new Chancellor actually removes the weak leadership that are common in the New York City Public School system.

When it comes to excellent teachers, since the Guliani era the word"excellent" means inexpensive and untenured teachers.   Memo to the Chancellor, there are many excellent teachers in the ATR pool aand many veteran teachers will transfer if it wasn't for DOE hiring policy that penalizes principals  who hire veteran teachers,  The Fair Student Funding formula needs to be eliminated before the word "excellent" means what it should mean.

Eliminate or severely reduce "credit recovery" courses.  Stop imposing scholarship requirements, and make the courses "college and career" ready. Only 3 out of every 10 students are ready for the adult world.

If social and emotional learning means restorative justice instead of a suspension or does it mean giving out "warning cards" instead of being arrested, then I am skeptical.

To the Chancellor, its one thing to say what is needed, its another thing to get the bloated Bureaucracy at the DOE to implement those changes.  You can read what the new Chancellor proposed Here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Academic Fraud Is Pervasive In The NYC Public School System.

One of the challenges the new Chancellor must address and correct is the "academic fraud" issue.  While graduation rates keep going up, the "college and career readiness" rates are abysmally low, with 3 out of every 4 high school graduates are  subject to no credit remedial course work and many employers complain that the high school graduates are found lacking in academic skills to do the job properly.

The academic fraud is due to DOE pressure on schools to raise their graduation rate "by any means possible".  That includes "credit recovery" programs that lack any rigor or even an instructor!, scholarship quotas that require up to 85% of the students in the classroom to pass, and Principal pressure to pass failing students or get a negative evaluation.

In yesterday's New York Post there was an Opinion piece by a retired teacher who worked at John Dewey High School and described how the DOE stubbornly refused to take action against the Principal for her "easy pass" program that skyrocketed the graduation rate but hurt students academically.  You can read it Here.

Academic fraud is pervasive throughout the school system and is a running joke.  Until and unless the new Chancellor addresses the academic fraud issue, all other changes will not alter the educational landscape where students graduate unprepared for the real world.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Governor Cuomo Rescues The Unions From Janus


The New York State budget supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo has tucked away in it two new pro union items.  First and foremost is the right for the union to eliminate union benefits, other than salary and basic health benefits from members who "opt out" paying union dues.  You can read it Here

For example for teachers the disciplinary 3020-a hearings for educators will require the educator to pay for private lawyers rather than be represented by NYSUT attorneys.  Moreover, welfare benefits can be withheld, depending if it's contractual.  Finally, internal investigations might require the educator to hire a private lawyer to  represent them rather than be supplied by a union official when interviewed by investigators.

The other item tucked into the budget is that union dues are fully deductible by the State.  Obviously Governor Cuomo is appealing for union support and wants to put in the past his pro charter school stance, the underfunded .education budget,  and the punitive teacher evaluation system he rammed through despite teacher oppositionLet's not forget his support for education deformer John King as NYSED ChancellorOnce he is reelected look for the Governor to change his pro union position once again.

I guess most of us will still be paying union dues even after the Janus decision. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The New Chancellor Questions The Renewal Program

Less than a month on the job, Chancellor Richard Carranza has already questioned the Renewal Program and the ever changing criteria used to determine if a Renewal school closes or stays open.
According to the new Chancellor, everybody he speaks to have a different idea what the goals are.  Welcom3e to the DOE Mr. Carranza, where up is down and down is up.

The reason the new Chancellor is confused about the goals of the Renewal program is that most Renewal schools are overseen by failed administrators who were removed from their schools for various reasons.  The overall supervising superintendent was Ammie Horowitz who has been refereed many times in this blog.

If the Chancellor wants to change the Renewal program he must do the following:

  • Attract academically proficient students.
  • Reduce the high teacher turnover.
  • Encourage experienced teachers to apply.
  • Reduce the bloated Renewal program administration.
  • Stop making it a dumping ground for failed administrators.
Then and only then will the Renewal Schools have a real chance to escape the Renewal program.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Education Reform Organizations Are Losing Control Of Our Education System

Since the beginning of the new millennium, the education reform organizations nave been chasing the holy grail that would eliminate the student academic achievement gap,  The education reformers  came up with many ideas on how to eliminate the student achievement gap.  At first they proposed smaller class sizes, more resources, and quality teachers, even if that meant paying them more.   However, these ideas failed to significantly narrow the student academic achievement gap.  Therefore, the education deformer started to blame the public school system, especially the unionized teachers for the student academic achievement gap.

The education deformer organizations were led by the likes of Bill Gates, Eli Board, and Sam Walton who bribed pseudo-educators like Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and  Arnie Duncan to implement programs that put the blame on teachers when they failed

For example the Obama-Duncan Race to the Top program forced States to implement a teacher evaluation  system that linked student growth to teacher effectiveness.  It hardly mattered that  a study by the American Statistical Society showed that any one teacher had only between 1% to 14% impact on their student's growth,  Many states used a percentage of between 40% and 50%,  In fact, the student growth formula used was "junk Science" and in New York State a court found it to be true.

As the education deformer organizations could not close the student academic achievement gap, they proposed merit pay, elimination of tenure, limited collective bargaining rights, and the right to fire "ineffective" weakening their due process rights.  Instead of being allies to the public school system the education deformer groups became the enemy by supporting and funding charter schools, online schools, as well as private and parochial schools.  They supported the school choice program that allowed any child to get a voucher and apply to any school.

The heyday of the education deformer movement was betweent 2006-15, when Arnie Duncan headed the Federal Department of Education and most States had education deformers  in charge of the State education systems.  Because President Barack Obama supported the education deformer education policy and the States desperately needed the Race to the top funds during the great recession, quite a few states implemented an education reform agenda,  The result was vastly disappointing.  The student academic achievement gap was as wide as ever,  Moreover, the unrelenting attack on teachers throughout the nation made college graduates flee the profession and widespread teacher shortages are a  contining resulted from the unrelenting attacks on teachers.

I believe the pendulum is starting to swing the other wayas the education deformer orgabnizations are slowlly losing power and teachers are  standing up for a livable wage.  Example West Virgina.

The day of the education deformer organizations controlling the public schools have come and passed and even more of these deformer organizations will dissappear as many of the educatin deformer groups have become anti-public education and care more about saving money then giving the child a good education,

Sunday, March 25, 2018

DOE ContinuesTo Award Bogus High School Diplomas.

In the New York Post today there is an article on the New  York State Department of Education audit of the "credit recovery" courses used by Brooklyn's John Dewey High School.  These credit recovery courses were nicknamed by the students as "easy pass".

The NYSED audit, which took years to complete looked at the "credit recovery" courses from 2012 to 2015 and found the following:
  • Students not eligible to take the credit recovery courses were allowed to, despite teacher complaints.
  • Most credit recovery courses had  no actual teacher, just a packet.
  •  77% of the credit recovery courses had no certified teacher,
  • 75% of the students were wrongly awarded a diploma due to the bogus creit recovery courses.
  • One rookie teacher was responsible for 52 credit recovery courses in one semester.
While the Principal was removed and the DOE went through the motion to fire her using the 3020-a process.  The DOE sabotaged its own case by not allowing  officials to appear at the hearing that would have showed the DOE rubber stamped the "easy pass" system.  The result the ex Principal, Kathleen ­Elvin, now has cushy $169,916 job as a supervisor in the DOE’s Office of Safety Youth Development.  You can read my article Here.

This is just another example how the DOE rather issue bogus high school diplomas rather than give the students the education they deserve.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The DOE Is Run By A Bunch Of Imbeciles - The Anna Poole Story Proves It.

I have always snickered at the DOE motto under Mayor Bloomberg it was "children first...Always!  When the truth is that the DOE does what's best for the DOE not for the children in the classroom.  The DOE gobbles up way to much of the money it receives from the City, State, and Federal governments while keeping schools at near recession era budgets by giving them only 88% to 90% of their fair funding. Many of the DOE departments are bloated, especially the Office of Legal Services and the Accountability group.  It's little wonder that teacher 3020-a hearings are as high as ever, as the DOE lawyers needs to justify their bloated budget.  While paperwork overloads teachers as the Accountability group needs it for their useless data mining operation.

Overall the DOE Central Bureaucracy absorbs an increasing amount of funds at the expense of the schools and the children in them.  Many of the DOE Bureaucrats are not the brightest bulbs when it comes to innovative programs to help schools best educate their students.  Moreover, they allowed class sizes to be highest in the State.  Finally, the DOE hires Superintendents based on who they know and not what they know.  Just take a look at two of them Amiee Horowitz and Juan Mendez.,

Not only is the DOE the enemy of the classroom teacher but are a bunch of imbeciles as well. Just take a look at the Anna Poole story.

Anna Poole was n untenured Science teacher who tried to do a Chemistry experiment that was considered dangerous and could result in injuries.  No experienced Science teacher would attempt this experiment without proper safeguards but Anna Poole did.   Beacon High School, rather than hire an experienced Chemistry teacher from the ATR pool chose an untenured rookie teacher to lead their students.  The result was disastrous as her inexperience resulted in an explosion that disfigured one student, burned another and gave a third student PTSD..

Was Anna Poole fired?  Nope!  She was instead promoted to become an instructional specialist at the DOE.  I guess on how to prepare laboratory experimenter that can explode and injure students.   Now she has been promoted to become DOE instructional Supervisor to help teachers prepare Science lessons, complete with a $25,000 raise!

Like I said the DOE is run by a bunch of imbeciles!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Why I Can't Support Black Lives Matter.

In a reaction to police injustice how young Black men were treated an organization was created called  "Black Lives Matter".  This group was a vocal advocate of treating the young black men with the same respect as all other people.  However, the Black Lives Matter group slowly morphed into a political organization and seemed to move away from their roots.  While the Black Lives Matter movement still had a focus on anti-police action when they could exploit incidents that show the police abusing their authority and rightly so.  The movement has also taken an ideological slant that is quite disturbing to me.

For example the Black Lives Matter movement supports the Boycott Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) organization against Israel, an anti-Semitic movement dominated by pro Palestinian and far left fringe groups. Over the last couple of years and especially after the Ferguson Missouri incident.  Black outrage against the police resulted in Black Lives Matter to represent them. Why they would support Anti-Semitic issues and single out Israel is puzzling.

Black Lives Matter has a foreign policy fact sheet and only identifies one country for criticism, Israel and calls the country an‘apartheid state’ committing ‘genocide’.  Yet, there us no mention of Syria, which kills thousands of its civilians with chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and rapes children.   Back Lives Matter fails to mention Iran, a sponsor of terrorism.  How about North Korea or Burma?  Read it for yourself Here.

Despite the historic alliance between Blacks and Jews, Black Lives Matter has joined the Anti-Semitic  far left fringe groups in attacking the only Jewish State in the world, Israel.  That is why I cannot support Black Lives Matter.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Post Janus New York.

The unions, lead by the UFT, is sounding the alarm about what the Janus decision will do  to public unions.  Granted, the unions will lose the right for mandatory dues checkoff and data from Michigan shows that approximately 20% of members refused to pay union dues when the State banned mandatory dues to the unions. These members who refuse to pay their fair share of union dues but still must be represented by the union are known as "free riders".  How will it affect New York State public unions?  Here  is my best guess.

In a post Janus New York, unions will still have Civil Service protections in the form of the Taylor Law.    The Taylor Law requires that Municipalities must bargain in "good faith" with unions.  That includes arbitration, meditation, and hearing of grievances.  It also penalizes unions who participates in work stoppages or strikes.

One of the most important amendments is called the Triborough amendment.  The Tribourough amendment requires that all municipalities cannot change work rules or alter the last contract. until a new contract is negotiated with the union.  That means that once a contract lapsed, all the provisions of that contract stays in force until a new contract is agreed upon by the union.  You can read my take Here.

As for the UFT?  They have a political action wing that relies on voluntary contributions called COPE   Therefore, if you believe our union leadership that no union dues pay for political or social causes, then the reduction in union dues colected will have little or no effect on union contributions to politicians since COPE funds are unaffected by Janus.  Therefore, any future contract negotiations with the City should not be significantly affected by the UFT receiving less union dues, despite the scare tactics the union leadership will employ on their members.

When the UFT comes knocking at your door and tells you what Janus can do to the union's power and our benefits, TAKE WHAT THEY SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Tier VI Teacher Retirement Game Is A Sucker's Game.

The Tier VI retirement game is based upon reasonably conservative assumptions on how difficult it is for a Tier VI teacher to reach their goal of full retirement benefits.

The Tier VI teacher retirement game requires one dice (die) and depends on the law of probability.  Based on the assumptions used for the game, only 9.2% of all Tier VI teachers will be able to reach the goal of full retirement benefits.  That's one out of every 11, not good odds.  The assumptions used in the Tier VI retirement game are as follows:

The first  step is to reach the 10 year vesting period necessary to receive a pension.  Based on the Manhattan Institute report on Fairer Pensions, only 33% of all New York City teachers (Mostly Tier IV) will last long enough in the New York City Public Schools to be vested for a pension.  This is a conservative assumption since the study was done before the New York State Teacher Evaluation System and the use of the Charlotte Dainelson rubric that is used as a weapon against teachers. Other cities report percentages in the teens and that will probably be the value for Tier VI teachers in the future.

Next, for those 33% of Tier VI teachers that are vested, the next goal is obtaining retiree health benefits,  To achieve retiree health benefits the Tier VI teacher must have 15 years in the system,  Since this is only 5 years over the pension vesting period, I assumed that only 17% of Tier VI teachers will not achieve that goal.

To get to the maximum percentage (1.75%) to calculate the 5 year Final Average Salary (FAS), the Tier VI teacher must have a full 20 years in the pension plan.  Otherwise the FAS is calculated using a 1.67% factor rather than the 1.75% factor once they completed their 20 year of service.  According to various studies, only 67% of the teachers (Tiers 1 thru 4) actually reach the 20 year threshold if they had completed 15 years This is true in New York City where veteran teachers are targeted.  Therefore, in the Tier VI retirement game I conservatively used 67% of the Tier VI teachers who reached 15 year of service will last another 5 years to the 20 year goal of maximum percentage when calculating their five year FAS.

Finally, to reach full retirement benefits and a maximum pension, the Tier VI teacher must reach 63 years of age.  Otherwise they are subject to an age reduction factor of as much as 48%!  Only 50% of Tier VI teachers who meet the  above criteria will reach full retirement age.

Is it any wonder that a Tier VI teacher has the odds stacked against them as they strive for full retirement benefits?  If you play the game you only have a 9.2% chance of achieving your goal and that's probably close to what will happen as the Tier VI teacher moves closer to retirement in in the year 2032 and beyond.

The bottom, line is for Tier VI teachers, reaching full retirement is a sucker's game.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mayor Bill De Blasio Is More Like Michael Bloomberg.When It Comes To Education Policy.

When Bill de Blasio was a candidate for Mayor he positioned himself as the anti-Bloomberg.  His campaign promise was to reduce class size, bring respect to the teaching profession, and  no more closing schools.  To be fair, Bill de Blasio did live up to his promise in limiting charter, schools, appoint an educator as Chancellor, and to cooperate with the UFT on a new contract,  However, in the first term Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a Joel Klein Deputy Chancellor (Carmen Farina) who turned out to be more the problem then the solution as she kept 80% of the Bloomberg era policymakers and picked Superintendents on who they knew rather than what they knew.

Ask the teachers in the trenches if the classroom environment is different now then under Michael Bloomberg and their answer is a resounding no!  Class sizes are far too large, Charlotte Dainelson is still used to evaluate teachers, and 3020-a charges against educators remain high and essentially unchanged, when compared to the third term of the Bloomberg era.

In addition, the "gotcha philosophy" is still the theme of the day and the DOE still goes after veteran teachers, either by their fair student funding policy or by Charlotte Danielson as administrators used the rubric as a weapon to force senior teachers to either retire or face 3020-a charges. The ATR pool continues to exist with 1,300 ATRs still without a classroom, despite candidate Bil de Blasio's intention of placing them in vacancies when he became Mayor.  Finally, the racial/income achievement gap is as large as ever.  Another example of Mayor Bill de Blasio becoming more like Michael Bloomberg is he forced one of his PEP appointees to resign after she voted not to close two Far Rockaway schools.

In some ways the Bill de Blasio administration is worse.  He allows cellphones in the schools despite evidence that student cellphone use reduces academic achievement.  He also limited student suspensions and is a supporter of restorative justice instead.    The result is the most students feel less safe in the schools. The lax student discipline code is a disaster.  Read the NYC  kids pac report for all the promises that Mayor Bill de Blasio broke in the 2016 Mayoral report card..

The bottom line Mayor Bill de Blasio is becoming more like Michael Bloomberg and that can only increase he already low morale of the classroom teacher and hurt the students down the road.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Will The New Chancellor Eliminate The Bloomberg Ideology That Permeates The DOE?

Starting in April, the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza, will take over the New York City school system.  Obviously, any substantial changes will have to wait till the next school year,  Hopefully, he will do what Carmen Farina failed to do and that is to "clean house" at the DOE.  Carmen Farina was as much the problem rather than the solution as she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers.  Already, Carmen Farina has transferred her close friend and failed Renewal Superintendence, Amiee Horowitz. to a position she will still oversee after her retirement. I can only hope that the new Chancellor will get rid of the many Bloomberg era policymakers that has made the DOE the enemy of the classroom teachers.

In particular, Mr. Carranza should eliminate the destructive Fair Student Funding formula that discriminates against veteran teachers.  Worse yet, the schools are only funded at between 88% to 90% of their fair funding while the DOE's Central Bureaucracy was cited by Controller Scott Stringer for increasing their expenses by 24% since 2012, while teacher overhead increased by only 12%.

Bring back unit based hiring that will encourage principals to hire veteran teachers without being penalized in their budget while eliminating any financial advantage to hire "newbie" teachers as it is presently.

Eliminate the ATR pool by allowing ATRs first choice in vacancies in their district.  No teacher outside the district can be hired until all ATRs in the district are placed.

Reduce class sizes and ensure properly certified teachers are teaching in their content specialty.

Have a "zero tolerance policy" on academic fraud and eliminate the "double standard"when disciplining teachers and administrators.

Finally, the new Chancellor should reach out to the teachers and not just the union leadership as Carmen Farina did.  The new Chancellor should allow teachers to teach the way that is best for their students and not be micromanaged by administrators.  Furthermore,  eliminate the Charlotte Dainelson rubric for evaluating teachers and reduce observations from 4 to 2 a year.  Finally, eliminate the useless and worthless PD that makes Monday and Tuesday a living hell for teachers.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Carmen Farina's Flunky, Amiee Horowitz, Gets A New Job.

Amiee Horowitz a close colleague of Chancellor Carmen Farina was rewarded by the outgoing Chancellor by being appointed to lead an initiative to help schools who share buildings.  To me it appears the Chancellor, in trying to protect her close fried, and decided to have Amiee Horowitz work on the initiative that Ms. Farina will be involved in after she is no longer Chancellor.  You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.

Why do I think as I do?  Let's look at all the negative issues associated with Amiee Horowitz.

First,  as the District 20 Superintendent she tried to railroad an untenured teacher who reported Regents cheating.  Instead of simply discontinuing the teacher, Amiee Horowitz tried to file a C-31, a license re vocation.  You can read the teacher's story in my article on cronyism over competence.

Second, under Amiee Horowitz, a Renewal School, Flushing High School was caught in a massive Regents cheating scandal.  What did Ms. Horowitz do?  Nothing, nothing at a;;.  you can read the sickening details Here.

Third,  as the supervising Superintendent of the Renewal Schools she put many of her friends in administrative positions, many of them failed principals and administrators. In fact, the Renewal program was top heavy with administrators while the schools continued to struggle academically,  You can read it here,

Finally under Amiee Horowitz, the Renewal Schools ended up hiring "newbie" teachers, rather than experience educators and the academic results were predictably poor.  The post is Here.

Just like a "bad penny" Amiee Horowitz continues to show up in high level DOE positions at the expense of real education experts.   Here are more stories about Amiee Horowitz.  Here and Here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Why Many UFT Members Are Conflicted About Paying Dues. However, ATRs Are Not.

New York City Educator wrote on his blog why we all should be paying union dues when Janus is settled.  He correctly points out why union representation is important and despite the arrogance of the union leadership, we must stand together.  I considered myself a loyal union member and help other members with their issues.  However, its hard to be loyal to a union who's leadership cares more about themselves and political favors than the members they are supposed to represent.  As an ATR I am furious how we are treated as second class citizens and if you came out of discipline, an untouchable,  Moreover, the ATRs have no chapter representation and cannot request a change of schools.  Finally, there is no mutual consent as the ATR cannot refuse an assignment.  Let's not forget the field supervisors as well.

The DOE treats the ATR as if they are "bad" or unwanted teachers as the DOE fair student funding policy makes hiring veteran ATRs financially unappealing.  The union leadership, rather than pushing the DOE to eliminate this unfair policy, looks the other way.  Notice how the ATR issue wasn't addressed by the UFT on negotiating the next contract?

When three out of four union members didn't even bother to vote in the last union election,  How many will voluntarily pay their union dues?   60%, 70% or 80%?. Who knows?  However, when it comes to the ATRs   I suspect the majority will refuse to pay their union dues since they feel the union leadership has failed to properly represent them.

While NYC Educator is right that we need a union to protect our hard won gains, the problem is that our union leadership does not deserve the respect from the members, especially the ATRs who have been betrayed time and again by the self-serving Unity leadership.

Read ATR Adventures blog for how most ATRs feel about the union leadership.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

How Safe Is Our Schools? Not Safe At All According To The NYPD.

In the first semester of the 2017-18 school year saw a spike in arrests summonses, and use of restraints by the NYPD in the New York City school system.  The Daily News article reported that the major crimes in the schools increase was 8% over the same period in the 2016-`17 school year.

The figures published Friday show reported incidents of major crimes in the public schools, such as larceny, arson or robbery, rose to 163 in the period of October through December 2017.  That's up from 151 in the same period in 2016.

Obviously, the weakened student discipline code, the emphasis on restorative justice and reduced suspensions have empowered misbehaving students to commit offenses that require NYPD intervention.  Mayor Bill de Blaio may claim the schools are safer but with arrests up and students feeling less safe, the opposite is true. 

Are the New York City school safe?  Not according to the NYPD statistics.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Bloomberg Small Schools Are Doing A Disservice To Self Contained Special Education Students.


There have been pros and cons when breaking up large comprehensive high school and make three to six small schools on the campus.  The pros would be closer relationship between students and staff, assuming staff stays at the school which is problematic.  A higher graduation rate (but not college readiness) and a more focused student centered environment.  The cons are limited course curricula, high teacher turnover and usually an inexperienced teaching staff in low income communities, and .lack of resources for the neediest of students.  However, the biggest negative are those Special Education students who need a self-contained environment.  Be it 12-1-1 or 8-1-1.  Instead most of the Bloomberg small high schools have no self-contained classrooms and these Special Education students are dumped into a ICT classes with class sizes as high as 34 students.

The DOE will claim that they are mandated to put Special Education students in the "least restrictive environment" but many students need a self contained classroom, where he or she gets more intensive academic and behavioral support.  This is just another example of the DOE's "education on the cheap" policy at the expense of the Special Education student.

Ask any teacher at the high school level how many potential self-contained Special Education students will pass the end of year Regents.  How about close to zero!  Yet, the Bloomberg small schools dumped these high needs students in ICT classes of up to 34 students.

The villain is the DOE and their "no excuses" philosophy when it comes to the teacher evaluation system and combined with their "education on the cheap" policy and you have a recipe for failure and that's what happens in school after schools in the small school universe in New York City.

The bottom line is that the DOE treats self-contained Special Education students a disservice when they dumped them in ICT classes.  For these "high needs" students the DOE's child last policy hurts their academic achievement.