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.

Monday, July 02, 2018

School District Student Acceptence Rates For The Three Specialized High Schools.




























The tables below are the list of School Districts, the number of students who passed the SHST, and the percentage accepted to the three specialized high schools in NYC. Brooklyn Tech, Bronx High School of Science, and Stuyvesant.

School District.............# of Offers........ Accepted

Manhattan 22.0%

..........1..............................51.................1.0%
..........2............................655...............12.9%
..........3............................295.................5.8%
..........4.............................26..................0.5%
..........5.............................38..................0.7%
..........6.............................55..................1.1%

Bronx 5.6%
..........7.............................12..................0.2%
..........8.............................53..................1,0%
..........9.............................17..................0.3%
.........10............................92..................1.8%
.........11............................97..................1.9%
.........12...........................19...................0.4%

Brooklyn 23.3%
........13...........................104..................2.1% ........14............................48...................0.9% ........15...........................365..................7.2% ........16............................21...................0.4% ........17............................33...................0.7% ........18............................21...................0.4% ........19............................32...................0.6% 
........20...........................527................10.4%
........21...........................251..................5.1%
........22...........................202..................4.0%
........23............................13...................0.3%
........32............................10...................0.2%

Queens 34.1%
........24..........................324..................6.4%
........25..........................358..................7.1%
........26..........................382..................7.5%
........27..........................124..................2.4%
........28..........................229..................4.5%
........29...........................96...................1.9%
........30..........................220..................4.3%

Staten Island  6.0%
........31..........................305..................6.0%

Chalkbeat has a map that also can prove useful, you can see it Here.

If you look at the table only two school districts make up more than 10% of the entering class.  They are District 2 in Manhattan and District 20 in BrooklynBoth areas are upper middle class neighborhoods and have a diverse student population.   The worst acceptance rates, less than 1%, occurred in Districts 7, 9, and 12 in the Bronx as well as Districts 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, and 32 in Brooklyn.  

 In addition, the total Bronx student acceptance rate is only 5.6%, less than the acceptance rate of seven districts.  They are Districts 2 and 3 in Manhattan, Districts 15 and 20 in Brooklyn, Districts 24, 25, and 26 in Queens, and District 31 in Staten Island.

Good luck Bill de Blasio trying to desegregate schools and getting the State Legislature to remove the SHST as the basis for being accepted in the three specialized high schools.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Queens High Schools That Students Avoid.





























The 2md Round of 2018 high school student vacancies are now available and you can see the list Here. What is quite obvious is that the most student vacancies are in schools with a 90% or more Black and Hispanic student population.  Moreover, these high schools are academically struggling and many students are subject to poverty.  In addition, these schools have high ELL and Sp Ed populations as well as having high teacher turnover.  Finally, some high schools refused to show vacancies by claiming they are continuing to recruit students. To check other years from 2015 to 2017 you can find them Here, Here, and Here.

This is the list of Queens High Schools with the most student vacancies in the 2nd round.

School..............................................Vacancies

Long Island City.....................................535
John Adams...........................................455
Grover Cleveland....................................420 
William Cullen Bryant..............................250
Flushing.................................................245
Newtown................................................190
August Martin.........................................170
Martin Van Buren....................................160
International HS For Health Sciences........150 
Humanities And Arts...............................145
Hillcrest.................................................125
Pathways Collegiate Prep Academy..........120
George Washington Carver......................105
Mathematics, Science, and Tech..............100
HS of Law Enforcement.............................80
Benjamin Franklin....................................80 
Fredrick Douglas Academy VI....................80
Richmond Hill...........................................65
Excelsior Preparatory ..............................60
Queens Preparatory Academy...................60  
Rockaway Collegiate.................................60

If you look at the list you can see many of the schools are in Southeast Queens and Renewal Schools.

It needs to be noted that these vacancies are the minimum available since the DOE list stops at 40 vacancies.  Some of these schools might have double the amount of vacancies listed on the DOE website.

Read my other posts that list the Queens high schools that students avoid 2017, 2016, and 2015..  Here,  Here, and Here.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

If The Union Wants My Dues Then Here Is My Checklist.




























Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on Janus and the unions must require members to formally "opt in", if they wan to pay dues.  Therefore, here is my checklist to the union leadership they must satisfy if they want me to "opt in".
  1. Run a media campaign on how destructive Fair Student Funding is to students who must suffer from a high turnover rate of inexperienced teachers.
  2. Push to bring back unit hiring and have all vacancies filled by excessed teachers in the District before any "newbie" can be hired.
  3. Make an ATR Chapter 
  4. Eliminate the punitive Charlotte Danielson rubric that is used as a weapon by vindictive principal.
  5. Negotiate with the DOE for two observations.
  6. Commit to eliminate the "scarlet letter" for members who won their 3020-a hearings,
  7. Be pro-active and publicize the issues with incompetent and/or vindictive administrators. 
  8. A commitment not to accept any more "givebacks"  in future contracts.
  9.  No separate rules and second class citizen status for educators in the ATR pool
  10.  Push to eliminate the ATR Supervisors.
  11. Canvas members before supporting and funding other organizations.
  12.  Bring real democracy and transparency to the union.
 Other teachers may have different ideas on how to improve and make our union leadership more accountable to the members but this is my checklist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The City And DC37 Agree To A New Contract.




























The City and DC37 have agreed to a new 44 month (3.67 years) contract that includes a 7.4% raise for the length of the contract.  That equals to  an equivalent of a  2% annual raise (inflation is estimated to be 3% during this time period).  The annual raise is about what I expected.  However, it appears the Municipal unions will be giving the City more health care "givebacks" by saving the City  $1.5 billion dollars.

The 44 month contract breaks down as follows:

Year........................Raise
1................................2%
2................................2.25%
3................................3%

This contract with DC37, the largest municipal union means that a "pattern" has been established and we can expect a similar raise for the UFT.

Unlike the UFT,  DC37 is getting family leave , not parental leave like the UFT obtainedThat is similar to what UUP received and didn't have to give back 73 days to achieve their 2% annual raises.

 You can read the New York Daily News and New York  Post articles Here and Here.

Will Chancellor Richard Carranza Clean House At Tweed?




















Chancellor Richard Carranza was appointed in April and will be in office for five months.  Time enough to get a feel of the New York City school system and more importantly, the abilities of the top administrators at Tweed.  Hopefully, the new Chancellor will "clean house" and erase the Bloomberg ideology that permeates the DOE.  Something that Carmen Farina failed to do as Chancellor.

In the Newark schools the new Superintendent decided to "clean house" by removing 31 top administrators so that he could change the ideology of the Board of Education which was run by the State and by Joel Klein proteges, Cami Anderson and Christopher Cert. Many of the top administrators under the previous administration were "outsiders" who were sympathetic to education reform.  You can read it Here.

Let's hope that Chancellor Richard Carranza follows the example of the Newark Superintendent, Roger Leon and not Carmen Farina who failed to "clean house"  and allowed the anti-teacher Bloomberg ideology to continue under her tenure.




Sunday, June 24, 2018

NYSED Continues To Make It Easier To Pass The Algebra 1 Regents Exam.





















When does a 30% correct response equals a 65% passing rate?  Only in New York State.  It seems that every year the New York State Education Department (NYSED) reduces the cut scores so that more students can pass the Algebra 1 Regents.  This year NYSED reduced the amount of answers a student needs to answer correctly to 26 out of 86 questions, that comes out to a 30% rate. The lowest since the State has been using this version of the Algebra 1 Regents exam.

The reason for the NYSED's lowering the cut scores is to achieve a minimum passing rate in the Algebra 1 Regents.  Not that the exam was made harder but because the State is under pressure to reduce the academic/racial achievement gap and to increase the graduation rate.  Therefore, the NYSED must increase the curve to a point where educators question the academic merit of the Algebra 1 Regents exam's  minimum passing rate.

Here are the cut scores necessary to achieve a minimum passing rate from 2014, when the present day Algebra 1 Regents exam was introduced to New York State students.

Year..................Correct Answers.........Percentage

2014..........................31...........................34.6%
2015..........................30...........................34.9%
2016..........................30...........................34.9%
2017..........................27...........................31.4%
2018..........................26...........................30.2%

For every 1 point drop in the cut scores, it's estimated that an additional 10% of students will attain the minimum passing grade of 65%. That means since the Algebra 1 Regents exam was changed in 2014, approximately 50% more students passed the test.

You can read more about this in the New York Post. You can also read my post last year on the lowered cut scores Here


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fair Student Funding And Our Union.




























Over the years I was told by union officials that they had no say on the DOE's use of school based fair student funding.  While that is true the fair student funding would never have been implemented had our union President, Randi Weingarten, had not agreed to eliminate the seniority transfer and bumping provisions in the infamous 2005 contract. 

School based fair student funding discriminates against veteran teachers, especially senior teachers.  Since the school budget is based on the school demographics and principals are more inclined to hire inexpensive staff, in particular, teachers.  The DOE gave principals total control of the hiring process as a result of the 2005 contract so they "hired the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.
Moreover, since the union agreed to eliminate seniority transfer and bumping, this allowed the DOE to follow through on their plan to change the hiring process.

Did the union know this would result in the ATR crisis?  The answer is yes. Just read my post of October 17, 2017 and the UFT report of June 2008 clearly shows the union warned the DOE that the new contract will result in an explosion of ATRs and discriminate against senior teachers.  Yet the union still  signed the infamous 2005 contract.

The bottom line the union leadership under President Randi Weingaarten knew full well the consequences of signing the infamous 2005 contract but signed it anyway. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

More Givebacks By The UFT On Parental Leave.



























UFT President Michael Mulgrew loudly proclaimed victory in negotiating with the City on parental leave.  At first glance, it does not seem to contain "givebacks" but on further analysis there is a "giveback".  The union agreed to extend the existing contract 73 days, from November 30, 1918 to February 11th, 2019.  That means when you add the 16 days delayed for the final 3% raise we gave up to fund the massive retirements in 2014, that means our existing contract was actually 10% for 7.25 years or annual raises of only 1.38%!
 
The union leadership and their acolytes will claim that there are no "givebacks" but to me, raises delayed and the extension of an existing contract is a "giveback". Moreover, it only pertains to parental leave (affecting 1.2% of the teachers) not the more expansive family leave that allows members to take for caring of  a sick relative, a plan that would allow all members to benefit, not just a select segment of the membership.


Compare our union leadership's  negotiation with the one public worker union, the United University Professionals (UUP) who negotiated a family leave plan in their new contract. Here.

If you read the article you will find that the UUP negotiated up to 10 weeks of family leave and that will increase to twelve weeks by 2021.  More importantly, there were no "givebacks" and in fact, thee were enhancements.  So let the UFT declare victory but now you know the truth.

Read David Irons' analysis on the ICE blog. Moreover, the New York Post Editorial Board praised the plan, enough said.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Courts Throw Out Charter Schools Weakened Teacher Certifiction Plan.




























A New York State court ruled that the Success Academy Teacher Certification requirements would result in inexperienced and unqualified teachers to be in the classroom and enjoined the charter network to proceed with their teacher evaluation plan for next year.

The reason that the carter network wanted the weakened teacher certification plan was their inability to recruit and retain state certified teachers.  High teacher turnover is a major problem for charter schools as long hours, lack of "due process" and inferior benefits make teachers leave for the public schools.  Moreover, the charter schools have a difficult job in recruiting certified teachers in the first place.

Presently, only 15% of the teaching staff in charter schools can be uncertified, and the charter schools have a difficult time attracing certified teachers and that's why the charter schools wanted the weakened teacher certification system.

The court decision can be found Here.

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Principals Acting Badly.




























Three seems to be a small shift on how the DOE are handling principals who are acting badly under the new Chancellor, Richard, Carranza.  Fist it was Howard Kwait, who was removed by the Chancellor from John Bowne High School in Queens and now it's Steven Dorcely of Urban Action Academy in the Carnarsie campus in Brooklyn who was removed due to sexual harassment of female subordinates.  Interestingly, Mr. Dorcely, a Leadership Academy Principal, was first in the news back in July of 2016 due to Regents cheating, cyber bullying, and poor academics.  You can read it Here.

The other Principal in the news is the Principal of troubled DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx who has been accused of passing students who never attended class by giving them a "quickie  mastery packet" which they can do at home.  The Principal, Pierre Orbe, has apparently didn't learn from the previous Principal who was removed for similar abuses.  Will the DOE also removed Mr. Orbe?  Only time will tell.

While I see the DOE taking Principal abuses more seriously. there still is a "double standard" on how teachers are treated compared to administrators and that must end. Let's see what the Chancellor does with the infamous Namita Dwarka of William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Bill De Blasio's Blunder On Specialized High School Admissions.



























Mayor Bill de Blasio's ill advised proposal on how to achieve some semblance of diversify has stirred up a backlash, mainly by East Asian parents and their political allies.  In addition, the Republican controlled State Senate has splashed cold water on the Mayor's plan to diversify the three Specialized High Schools which are Brooklyn Tech, Bronx High School of Science, and Stuyvesant.

The Mayor's plan would set aside 20% for low income students and he would scrap the Specialized school test altogether and allow the top academic students of every middle school in the City to be given a seat, based on their school grades and the State test scores.  There are major problems with the Mayor's approach.

First and foremost, .the Mayor's plan will allow for every student accepted by the school, another, more deserving student will be rejected.  His "robbing Peter to pay Paul" is not only discriminating against higher academic students but ignores the mission of the specialized schools, to nurture the top students in the City and provide a college like curriculum and atmosphere.

Second, if the Mayor's proposal is implemented, that would set aside seats in the specialized high schools based on middle school grades, which is subjective and subject to grade inflation.  Then what happens when those students who were accepted but cannot handle the tough academic environment of the specialized schools?  Will the Mayor allow them to transfer out or pressure the specialized schools to dumb down the curriculum?  My guess is the later.

Third, the Mayor's plan to use the State competency test is a poor replacement for the significantly harder specialized school test which is based upon selecting the top academic talent in the City.

Finally, the Mayor's plan discriminates against the high achieving Asian community and to a lesser degree, the White neighborhoods.  Moreover, it also discriminates against the middle class community's middle schools, which have more high academic achieving students than the City as a whole. Finally, under the Mayor's plan the specialized schools will no longer be elite.

My plan would be to provide free or low cost test prep for all middle school students who have ambitions to be accepted to the specialized high schools and pay for it by one or more of the following.
Furthermore, we need to reduce class sizes and eliminate Fair Student Funding so that the middle schools can have experienced teachers instead of the steady turnover of "newbies". which hurt student academic achievement.  Finally,  the City must improve both the administrative leadership and teacher quality at the middle schools which is the weakest link of the NYC public schools.


Friday, June 15, 2018

The ATR Pool Attacked Once Again. This Time By The Citizen's Budget Commission.



















The nonpartisan and anti-teacher Citizen's Budget Commission (CBC) in an error filed analysis blasted the City and the UFT that allows teachers to remain in the ATR pool indefinitely.  According to the CBC report, the ATR pool costs the DOE $136 million dollars in the school year   Their solution?  Give the ATRs a six month time limit. While I do not question the number, I do question the CBC's motives and their lack of exploring the real cause of the ATR pool..

In the next few months the City will be negotiating with the unions, including the UFT.  The City will most certainly ask for an ATR time limit as they have done since the creation oif the ATR pool.  Just as certain, the UFT will reject an ATR time limit, reminding the City of the deal that was made between DOE's Chancellor Joel Klein and UFT President, Randi Weingarten that allowed principals to hire whom they pleased while excessing veteran teachers into the ATR pool.  Part of the sleazy DOE-UFT agreement was that there would not be a time limit for excessed teachers who enter the ATR pool.  From the day the infamous 2005 contract was signed, Chancellor Joel Klein has tried to get the UFT to agree to an ATR time limit and has pushed the media to write articles that condemn the ATR pool.  From the Liberal New York Times to the Reformy Chalkbeat, to the Conservative Wall Street Journal and New York Post, all the media demonizes the ATR pool.

Since Joel Klein left the DOE the three other Chancellors have also pushed fir a time limit and to the union's credit, they point out that the time limit is non-negotiable since it was part of the new hiring process agreed to by both parties in 2005.  Moreover, if the union was to accept an ATR time limit, the other municipal unions would loudly object and probably sue as a violation of the Civil Service law since it would set a slippery slope of diminished worker "due process"  as all unions under "collective bargaining" would be forced to accept having excessed members who no longer can bump less senior members out of their job and with an arbitrary time limit can be fired.

The CBC's report fails to discuss the real culprit of the ATR pool,which is Fair Student Funding that penalizes principals who hire veteran teachers and incentivizes schools to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  It's too bad that the CBC report failed to address the deeper issues like school based fair student funding, large class sizes, poor leadership, and tight school budgets as the real causes of academic underachievement.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Academic Fraud Is Common In The New York City Public Schools.




























I have written previously that academic fraud is quite common in the New York City public school system.  Be it bogus credit recovery, scholarship, changing grades, or administrative pressure, academic fraud is ignored by the DOE.

In today's New York Post there is an article dealing with the academic fraud issue and the newspaper brings up one example that shows how OSI substantiated the test cheating but since the teacher was a favorite of the Principal and Superintendent, instead of the DOE filing 3020-a charges, the teacher merely ended up with a counseling memo.

Apparently the New York Post will be covering the academic fraud issue this week,  I can only laugh that the  newspaper never addressed the issue under Bloomberg or read Susan Edelman's articles most every Sunday.  The funnest quote from today's article is by a DOE spokesman who said the following.

“We treat academic misconduct seriously and take immediate disciplinary action as necessary. We have created an academic integrity task force to enhance training and support to ensure our policies are followed,” said department spokesman Doug Cohen.

The DOE claims that they have zero tolerance for academic misconduct and that is probably true for most teachers but when it comes to administrators and their favorite teachers, the DOE seems to look the other way.  The double standard continues no matter who the Chancellor is. Here are two other examples.  Here and Here.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Only 22% Of First Grade Students Survived Success Academy To Graduate With A High School Diploma.



 If you relied only on the New York City newspapers one would think that Eva Moskiwitz's Success Academy Charter Schools are a success.   The truth is that for every student that started in first grade eleven years ago, over three left the school due to various reasons.  In the first graduating class 16 students graduated out of 73 first graders.  That is a measly 22% graduation rate.  What happened to the 78% that left Success Academy?

I venture to guess that the majority of students left, as the school counseled them out. Many students who academically struggled were probably threatened to repeat the grade and behaviorally challenged students were simply kicked out of the school.   Others wearied of the intense academic pressure, including summer homework and having few, if any extracurricular activities that makes school a pleasant experience.

Regardless, the "drill and kill" culture of Success Academy Charter School is not for most students and if your child is an English Language Learner or self contained Special Education student, then Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy would counsel  you that the public school is a more appropriate environment for your child.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Paid Family Leave Starts Next Year For The United University Professionals, The First Publi Sector Union To Negotiate It In Their Contract.



























The first paid family leave contract was negotiated by the United University Professional (UUP), which included a 2% annual raise for the six years of the contract.   The paid family leave negotiated by the union is more generous than the State's paid family leave for businesses.

The State required paid family leave consists of up to eight weeks and the employee gets 50% of his or her average weekly wage which is capped at $652.96, whichever is less.  The $652.96 value is 50% of the State's average weekly wage.  The State plan is fully funded by payroll deductions equal to 0.126% of an employee's weekly wage. The maximum annual contribution is capped at $85.56 for this year.

The UUP negotiated family leave contract is more generous.   UUP members will receive 55% of their weekly wages up to ten weeks of paid leave, starting in July of 2019.  This will increase to 67% of the employee's average weekly wage and 12 weeks of paid family leave by July of 2021.  The paid family benefit and salary increases, along with minor improvements for adjunct professors who, for pension purposes,  work at the universality will now count as a full day instead of the hours worked,. the contract was negotiated without the union giving any concessions or deductions..

Hopefully, our union can learn from the UUP contract and at least negotiate a similar family leave contract and a 2% annual raise without any "givebacks".  This  should be the minimum our union should accept from the City.

Monday, June 04, 2018

My Response To The New Tork Times Biased Article On Principal Removals.



























I read and reread the New York Times article on how three principals were removed and quickly realized that the entire article was based only on the principals side of their reassignment.   The article was clearly biased as no teacher or Chapter Leader were interviewed, only the three principals and their supporters.  Occasionally, in the article they did get a quote from UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, but the reporter did not bother to interview any staff members who were involved in the complaints.

The three principals were Santiago Taveras, Kathleen Elvis, and Nadav Zeimer.  All of whom violated the Chancellor's regulations and most importantly were universally hated by the teaching staffs and were considered career killers.  All were removed and rightly so.  Unlike teachers, they still kept their salary and work in field offices.

In Santiago Taveras,when he was Deputy Chancellor under Bloomberg he was responsible for closing of the many large comprehensive high schools and earned the ire of the teachers union.  As Principal of DeWitt Clinton High School he was caught changing grades and built an illegal personal shower that the DOE had to dismantle.  Moreover, he was despised by the staff and targeted veteran teachers.

Then there is Kathleen Elvin who created the "Easy Pass" credit recovery system that jacked up the graduation rate.  Further, she also targeted veteran teachers and was one of the lowest rated principals when it came to the survey. Further, she was only exonerated by the arbitrator because the DOE refused to give the lawyers the evidence that the higher ups were complicit by approving the "easy pass" program.   Please read the New York Post's Editorial.

Nadav Zeimer, a Leadership Academy Principal, filed false and fraudulent charges against a teacher who was found totally innocent by an independent arbitrator.  The teacher was returned to the school and started to document the various violations the Principal did.  Eventually both SCI and OSI investigated and substantiated the violations. Here again the Principal was disliked by the staff. An example was when the teaching staff were forced to sit through useless professional development while Mr. Zeimer took his favorite administrators to  a notorious bathhouse. on school time.

The bottom line is that if you're a Principal and fail to cooperate and collaborate with your teaching staff and violate Chancellor Regulations, you deserve to be removed.


Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Teacher Evaluation System Should be Eliminated.



























I have watched with amusement how our Governor, Andrew Cuomo has made a 180 degree pivot on linking test scores to teacher evaluations.  First, he demanded that at least 20% of a teacher's evaluation should be linked to a student's growth score based upon high stakes Common Core tests.  When the results showed that.only 1% of the teachers were rated "ineffective", he demanded a more onerous evaluation.The Governor pushed the State to make Common Core based high stakes testing to be 50% of a teacher's evaluation , based on student growth.   It seemed that the Governor won the battle but it soon became apparent that he was losing the war in the teacher evaluation system that he was trying to impose.

First, was the parent led "opt out" movement that saw mostly middle class suburban families "opt out" their child from taking the Common Core tests.  On Long Island over 50% of the students opted out and 40% upstate chose not to take the tests.  While some claimed the teacher unions were responsible in convincing parents to "opt out".  The truth is most teacher unions remained silent and when they did recommend that their students should "opt out", the percentage of students opting out skyrocketed to 75% or higher.  The two most powerful teacher unions NYSUT and the UFT had no position on the "opt out" movement, had they supported the parents you would have seen a much higher "opt out" percentage Statewide.

Next. a lawsuit filed by a teacher on the validation of the "growth factor" used in the teacher evaluation system, was successful and the judge ruled the "growth factor" was "junk Science".
This growth algorithm was on trial in the Sheri G. Linderman case and the ruling is the death kneel of linking student growth to a teacher's-evaluation score.

When it came to public opinion, the Governor soon realized that supporting an unpopular teacher evaluation system and the dispersed Common Core tests his approval ratings were sinking and since their was no more federal money from the Obama Administration to bribe the Governor in supporting Obama's education reform goals, Governor Andrew Cuomo made his 180 degree pivot and supported a four year moratorium on linking Common Core tests to the teacher evaluation system.  No longer is the Governor  bashing teachers and their union, instead he now supports them as he wants another term as Governor and looking ahead to run for President.

While teachers no longer need to worry about the use of the high stakes testing being linked to their evaluation, except for the high schools, the other parts of the teacher evaluation system stays in place.  If you get three consecutive "ineffectives" you are automatically sent into a 3020-a termination hearing.  and a school district can send a teacher who receives two consecutive "ineffectives" can also be sent into a 3020-a termination hearing.  While this is not much different from what existed before, the difference is that the "burden of proof" is on the teacher to prove their innocence where the "burden of proof" was on the school district to prove the teacher's guilt.  Moreover, it now takes four years to obtain tenure, not three.  Finally, in NYC the teacher evaluation system requires four observations, using the terrible Danielson rubric, not two like the rest of the State.

Let's get rid of the teacher evaluation system and come up with a fair and teacher approved evaluation system and don't believe what you read by the newspaper's editorial boards.

Friday, June 01, 2018

The DOE Refuses To Fund 41 Schools So They Can Hire A Full Time Guidance Counselor.



























The DOE has a 25.5 billion dollar budget, yet they refuse to spend $5.2 million dollars to fill the vacant spots for a Guidance Counselor or Social Worker for 41 schools in the public school system.  This is the very same DOE that has for years had  the motto "children first" but for 41 schools the DOE refuses to allow the schools to hire a full time guidance counselor or  social workers to provide critical services to the students.  Just think, the DOE uses 24% of their budget on administrative overhead when the national average is 11%.  Can't the DOE streamline the bloated Central Bureaucracy and provide the extra funds for these 41 Public Schools?  Apparently, the answer is no

Chancellor Carranza must step in and take action to rid the bloated Central Bureaucracy of the Bloomberg/Klein ideology that shortchanges public schools with near recession budgets (90% of their fair funding) while even the City Comptroller has questioned why the DOE spends 24% of their budget on administrative functions?

In these 41 public schools, many students need social services that only a certified Guidance Counselor or Social Worker can provide.  Not having a full-time Guidance Counselor or Social Worker is almost criminal.  Yet the Bloomberg era administrators that allocate funds and make policy believe that if a school cannot provide professional services with their tight budget then it's the school's problem and not the DOE's.

I hope that Chancellor Carranza does what Carmen Farina did not do and that is to "clean house".  Otherwise, schools will continue to be starved for funds while the DOE, flush with cash, will continue to spend money on their administrative overhead.  "Children Last"....Always..

Monday, May 28, 2018

How To Improve Test Scores? Air Condition The Classroom.




























Most teachers know that teaching in a hot room is not conducive to good teaching and student learning.  Of course school and DOE administrators would beg to differ since they have air conditioned offices.  Now there is a study that proves that overheated classrooms result in lower test scores and less student engagement.

In New York City , the majority of schools have no air conditioning in most of their classrooms.  Even when the classroom has an air conditioner, it is problematic whether it works or not.  In one school I was in this year, an administrator received a brand new air conditioner for his office and then "donated" his ten year old air conditioner, that didn't work very well to a non profit organization that supplied services to a couple of students outside the school.  While the air conditioner could not be used in the classroom, the "donated" air conditional would have been a welcome addition to the school's teacher work room which had no air conditioner.  Is it any wonder this administrator is not well liked by the staff.

This study should show that the New York City Department of Education  should give priority to upgrading every school's electrical system and install a working air conditioner in every classroom.  That will help improve effective teaching and student learner and maybe the test scores will legitimately improve. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Our Union Leadership Has Failed It's Members When It Comes To Negotiating A Contract.























Many of us know that our union leadership has failed it's members as they have negotiated contracts that contained massive "givebacks", inadequate raises, and deteriorating teacher autonomy in the classroom. Since the Bloomberg era teachers have seen many "givebacks" negotiated by our inept union leadership. While the City had highly experienced negotiators at their side, the union leadership relied on their own people, like Adam Ross to negotiate a contract.  One City Hall insider snickered that negotiating with the UFT is like a man fighting a boy, with the UFT being the boy.  No wonder our contracts are so pitiful.   Let's take a look on the many "givebacks" and inadequate raises each contract imposed on the members.

2005 Contract:
The mother of all bad contracts.  The October 2005 contract barely included raises that exceeded the rate of inflation.  The raises averaged 3.15% annually.while inflation was 3%. To get this raise the UFT leadership gave the City massive givebacks. This included the elimination of seniority transfer rights and the rise of the ATR crisis.  You can read it Here 
Second,  was the elimination of challenging disciplinary letters to the file, a major blow to teachers who are targeted by vindictive principals.  You can read it Here. Third, the 2005 contract negotiated more time in the teaching day and more days, including two days before Labor Day.  You can read it Here.  Fourth, probably the most nefarious part of the contract that allowed the DOE, using the "probable cause" wording in the contract,  to remove any educator accused by a student of sexual misconduct to be taken off payroll and health benefits, if an investigative agency substantiates it, based on the most flimsy of hearsay evidence.  This usually results in the educator being terminated through the 3020-a process.  Finally, the contract reimposed the onerous "Circular Six" requirements that basically took away our professional period.

2007 Contract:
While this contract was probably the best contract we received (a 7.1% increase for two years) it still included a couple of  "givebacks"  This included the expanding of the "probable cause" section to include some felonies.  Moreover, this contract was the begining of the DOE's Fair Student Funding" policy that discriminated against veteran teachers and caused the ATR pool to explode with over 2,500 at its peak.

The 2014 Contract:
This contract was short on raises, 10% for 7.1 years or averaged 1.41% annually.  True, it gives back our 2009-10 raises but most of us have to wait until 2020 to be made whole. Of course if you resign or die forget about those raises.  Here again the union agreed to "givebacks" by making it easier to fire ATRs and further expanded actions under the "probable cause" statue.

Now, our union leadership is in the process of negotiating a new contract.  Based on previous contracts look for raises that are less than 2% annually and more "givebacks".

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bill Gates Ideas Are A Failure When It Comes To Public Eduction.



















Over the last twenty years.  Bill Gates has used his vast fortune, reputation, and celebrity to push an education agenda that radically  changed the landscape.  His ideas was must sought after by education reformers, politicians, and even the AFT.  Remember Randi Weingarten , President of the AFT invited Bill Gates to be the keynote speaker at their convention. His many ideas were adopted by various administrations and States.  Most have proven to be failures and his latest idea is the Obama imposed teacher evaluation system is rapidly falling into disfavor and in some states has been eliminated.  Here are some of Bill Gates ideas that are no longer used in education.

First, was the small high schools that Bill Gates pushed and a decade later he admitted that it was a failure as they failed to show improved academic achievement.  Next, was making teachers accountable for student growth which was based on "junk Science" and high-states testing.  Now more and more Sates are moving away from this failed model.  Bill Gates also proposed that cameras be installed in the classroom. However, this idea was blocked by teachers who realized that the cameras would be used by administrators to spy on them and not to help students   Finally, Bill Gates convinced the Obama Administration to push a teacher evaluation system on the States by bribing them with federal money during the height of the recession. Here again the teacher evaluation system is failing students and discouraging teachers from staying in the low paying profession.

Presently, Bill Gates has decided that all students need a quality teacher.  However, when it comes yo defining a quality teacher, Mr. Gates is strangely silent.  Maybe because he knows that many urban and rural school districts hire "newbie" teachers and despite his "children first" statements, he knows that these teachers have a steep learning curve that makes their students guinea pigs.  He also believes that the graduation rate is a measure of success even when he admitted that far too many students graduate unprepared for the adult world.

Bill Gates may spend a billion dollars on public education (most go to charter school networks) but when it comes to teachers, he is the reason that their is a teacher shortage as they are being held unfairly accountable for student outcomes.

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.
 
For additional information read the NYC Public School Parents blog.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The NYC Small Schools Have Many Disadvanatages.
















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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.